The Cincinnati Bengals came into the 2014 NFL offseason with plenty of money to spend, approximately $27 million, and a chance to build for a Super Bowl run. As free agency began, and subsequent time passed without any additions, fans grew restless and wondered what the team was thinking. Today, Mike Brown might have cleared up some of those questions, though not in a way that will please most fans.
In answering questions about this offseason, Brown discussed several points, but the main takeaway was the negotiation with quarterback Andy Dalton on a new deal. Dalton is in the last year of his rookie contract, and the Bengals are interested in getting him to sign an extension. This desire to get him inked might have caused the team to pass on other guys that could have helped Cincinnati now.
“At some point we are going to have to do something more than just let everybody leave waiting to get something done with that situation. We held back this year trying to put ourselves in a position to get him done.”-Mike Brown
Brown seemed to be saying that the Bengals may have let Michael Johnson walk, as well as laid off of the better free agents in order to save money to try and re-sign Dalton. With fans already dissatisfied with the beleaguered Bengal, this could backfire. With quarterbacks earning big money, and taking up a lot of cap space, whether or not they get a new deal done could have a huge impact on the future of the franchise. If the Bengals passed on impact players, including Johnson and Anthony Collins, in order to sign Dalton, and he fails to get the team over the playoff hump, it will be a nod to years past, when ineptitude with player choices doomed fans to watch an inferior product.
The biggest issue seems to be further inability by the Bengals to manage the cap and contracts. While other teams manage to add great players with a lot less cap room, Cincinnati seems unable to figure out how to even sign their own guys without damaging the rest of the team. Now, the pressure is on. Fans have been spoiled by a run of success, but want playoff wins. If Mike Brown declines adding to the team in order to sign Dalton, the quarterback had better deliver what fans want. Anything less, and this offseason can be considered a disaster.