Bengals Can Begin to Negotiate with Free Agents Today


Which free agents will the Bengals target beginning today?

The frenzy is about to begin, though in reality I’m sure it started at midnight.  Today marks the first day where teams are permitted to negotiate with players who’ll become free agents when their contracts expire Tuesday, March 10th.

The free agency period is a vital one for many teams.  Free agents signings can help push teams to the next level, but in many cases, hamstring overzealous teams’ salary caps for years to come.  It’s important to be particularly careful during this time period, only signing players whose experience reflect a respective team’s game plan and scheme.  Far too often we’ve seen players be forced to systems and game plans that aren’t ones they’re familiar with.  This often results backfires on teams.

Teams must also weigh free agency and the draft carefully, as one affects the other.  Signing key players during free agency relieves teams from having to overreach in the draft for players at specific positions.  But teams must also weigh the idea of how long to invest in a player when they very well could be drafting a younger player in about a month and a half; keeping a young player on the bench too long can be counterproductive; Bengals fans know this all too well.  This time of year cannot be seen in vacuum, but rather must be seen as a balancing act between both it and the upcoming draft.

For the Bengals, today is an opportunity to show some love to those proverbial Day Two and Three guys.  Cincinnati won’t likely be “breaking the bank” on any top tier free agents, so getting a jump on those “lesser” players could give them the advantage when signing them.

The Bengals have already met with the Swiss army knife that is James Casey, and have scheduled a meeting with A.J. Hawk for next week.  Many fans, including myself, would love to see the team meet with Trent Cole, but there’s been no report of meeting with him yet; Cole won’t be short of suitors, so the Bengals would do well to lock up a meeting soon.  The same can be said for the highly polarizing Greg Hardy.

The Bengals have typically used this time of year to re-sign or extend their own guys.  They have already locked up Rey Maualuga for another three years, and will be looking to re-sign Clint Boling in short order.  Players such as Cedric Peerman and Taylor Mays could also be retained as well.  The Bengals will also take a “wait and see” approach with Jermaine Gresham.  They will allow him to test free agency, but depending on the market he finds, his return to Cincinnati probably isn’t out of the question.  They’ll also be waiting to see if any team is willing and able to sign restricted free agent Emmanuel Lamur to an offer sheet, though this is unlikely after the team placed a second-round tender on him yesterday.

As far as extending players goes, that won’t likely come until training camp where the Bengals have made a habit of signing current players to extensions in recent years.

The Bengals have made it clear that they won’t be approaching free agency with their typical strategy; the “status quo” is apparently not enough for owner Mike Brown.  Although the team has shown several signs of a new approach (and commitment) to winning, i.e. facilities and stadium upgrades, lower tickets prices, re-signing key players, etc., today marks another step in proving to fans that the team is looking for new ways to find the ultimate success.

Next: Greg Hardy: Should Bengals Worry About Adding Troubled Players?

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