The Bengals will have a busy offseason with the number of players they have hitting the free agent market. The most prominent players are right tackle Andre Smith and defensive end Michael Johnson. The Bengals hope to sign Johnson to a long-term extension, but for now, he’s set to play the 2013 season under the one-year $11 million franchise tag.
That leaves Smith as the #1 priority between now and March 9th, when every NFL team can begin negotiating with the former #6 overall pick out of Alabama. Smith was the 4th-highest rated offensive tackle by Pro Football Focus, and is seeking a deal in the neighborhood of $9 million per season. Re-signing him is pivotal to the Bengals hopes of making the postseason for a third consecutive year in 2013.
As far as free agency goes for the Bengals, the #1 priority will be getting their guys re-signed, and once that’s completed, they’ll begin scanning the free agent market for outside help. Their biggest needs as of now are safety, linebacker, and runningback. Don’t expect the Bengals to break the bank for any of these needs and pursue players seeking long-term deals with lots of guaranteed money. Instead, expect to see them go after the cheaper free agents who will be getting 2-3 year deals with not much guaranteed money.
For safety, I’m looking at like Louis Delmas, Charles Woodson, or Chris Clemons.
For linebacker, watch out for Daryl Smith, Erin Henderson, or Phillip Wheeler.
As for runningback, look for a speedier back who can catch a lot of passes out of the backfield in the mold of Reggie Bush, Danny Woodhead, or Rashad Jennings.
Other Notable Bengals Free Agents: CB Nate Clements, S Chris Crocker, DE Robert Geathers, DT Wallace Gilberry, QB Bruce Gradkowski, OLB Thomas Howard, P Kevin Huber, CB/PR Adam Jones, OLB Manny Lawson, FB Brian Leonard, MLB Rey Maualuga, CB Terence Newman, K Mike Nugent, RB Bernard Scott, DT Pat Sims, KR/WR Brandon Tate.