3. Free Agency
Most people think about linebacker Thomas Howard when free agency comes up. They’d be right; in all likelihood, Howard is going to be the biggest unrestricted free agent the Bengals will have next year, in front of Andre Smith and Rey Maualuga. However, the crux of the matter with personnel isn’t going to be free agency next year. It’s going to be 2014.
Most fans scoff and wave off at a worry such as that, but the CBA is going to make that offseason incredibly difficult to handle financially if this team continues to go as planned. Jermaine Gresham and Jordan Shipley will both be entering into contract years against the looming deals of Andy Dalton and AJ Green the following season, both of whom the Bengals cannot afford to lose and who will both command huge contracts either with them or on the open market. That’s not even considering all the other rookies hopefuls that could be / will be looking for contract from the salary cap scraps: Armon Binns, Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins for example.
Mike Brown is known for his frugality, which will keep money in the bank until it will be needed. However, a simplistic savings plan isn’t the way that championship franchises like Pittsburgh or New England run their organizations. Those institutions have robust front offices that are projecting these player / personnel decisions in terms of finance for years in advance. The real test is going to be how an organization that has been named ‘the most poor managed in sports’ multiple times in the past decade will be able to handle this.