Cincinnati Bengals Links to Click: Buying an Elite Defense


Oct 6, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals defensive lineman Geno Atkins (97) sacks New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) in the first quarter at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Coley Harvey of ESPN broke down the Cincinnati Bengals’ financial commitment to their best defensive players who’ve helped build one of the league’s best units over the past five seasons.

According to ESPN’s roster management system, the more than $69 million that was set aside for Bengals defenders was the NFL’s most for defensive players this past season.

In comparison, the 2008 defense was given an NFL-worst $33.4 million after ranking 27th in the league in 2007. The Bengals had to draft and develop most of the players that have made up their defense, but for once, they’re paying these guys and keeping guys like Geno Atkins, Reggie Nelson, Leon Hall and Carlos Dunlap locked-up to keep this unit near the top of the NFL.

Harvey also reviewed Giovani Bernard’s rookie season,  and he believes the former North Carolina Tar Heel will average close to 1,500 yards of total offense in the coming years.

I think he has a chance to get to the 2,000 all-purpose yardage mark if he stays healthy. Hue Jackson sounds like he’s chomping at the bit to give Gio more touches next year and allow him to showcase his full potential.

Defensive end Michael Bennett is arguably the best free agent set to hit the market this offseason, and he has made it clear he’s not open to a “hometown discount” with the Seattle Seahawks:

"“There is no such thing as discount,” Bennett said Tuesday. “This is not Costco, this is not Walmart — this is real life. … You want to be compensated for the way that you perform and the kind of teammate you are.”"

I have no idea what Costco is (they have Dollar general where I live), but regardless, it sounds like Bennett is ready to get paid by whoever is shelling out the big bucks for him.

This affects the Bengals in that Michael Johnson won’t likely get a deal until Bennett gets his and sets the market for other free agent DEs.

Two more players could hit the free agency market Wednesday, as Pro Football Talk  reports the New Orleans Saints could release safety Roman Harper and defensive end/linebacker Will Smith soon.

Smith has a $10.4 million base salary and $13.9 million cap number, so he’s as good as gone. Harper is set to count $3.6 million against the cap and will hopefully be replaced by a healthy Kenny Vaccaro next year.

Is this the greatest era of offense in the history of the NFL? Nick Eatman of makes a compelling case that the NFL is more geared towards offenses than it ever has been, and why teams should sellout to build that side of the ball over defense.

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