With the Monday night opener against the Baltimore Ravens just 4 days away, the Bengals will enter the 2012 NFL Season with a number of key players with expiring contracts. Once the season hits, it becomes significantly more difficult to sing players to long-term deals. As of now, the Bengals are fifth in the NFL in available salary cap at $15.2 million, so there’s plenty of money to spend on players who deserve contract extensions.
Here are all of the current Bengals players scheduled to be free agents once the 2012 season has concluded, courtesy of Spotrac.com:
Now comes a news from Joe Reedy that the team is unlikely to sign any of these players to long-term deals before Monday night:
— Joe Reedy (@joereedy) September 6, 2012
That list of free agents includes anywhere from 9-12 projected opening day starters, and as many as 21 players expected to be game-day actives during the 2012 season. The most notable of which include the entire projected starting LB corp of Manny Lawson, Thomas Howard, and Rey Maualuga, not to mention starting DEs Michael Johnson and Robert Geathers. The team also stands to lose 3 of the projected top-5 CBs, as well as their best return-men in Adam Jones and Brandon Tate.
The Bengals have a talented, young of players ready to take the NFL by storm, but they need to continue to be surrounded by quality veterans to ensure they stay on the straight and narrow and develop into the best players they can. By re-signing some of the guys like Howard or Maualuga, who are already considered leaders on this team, you can ensure that’s the case going forward.