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Nick Fairley and the Bengals Being “Fairley” Certain

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Aug 28, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther against the Indianapolis Colts at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Blinking in the face of what was otherwise an solid free agency road map may come back to haunt the Bengals when all this is said done.  At this point, both Johnson and Fairley will have other suitors, making the acquisition of both very unlikely simply as a matter of cost relative to the market.  Indeed, Johnson has stated that he will visit the Vikings before the Bengals in order to see what his former defensive coach, Mike Zimmer, will be willing to offer.  In addition, Fairley is not waiting time either, reportedly meeting with the Rams in the near future.  The worst-case scenario that could result from this ‘free agency flinch’ would be an unusually aggressive Bengals front office loses players to the market.  While not a crippling blow at this point, it does beg the question why the release of Johnson was not anticipated and subsequently planned for by Cincinnati, as it was a likely and somewhat obvious scenario.

In an unlikely event, could the Bengals restructure Leon Hall’s near $10M contract this year and cut veteran leader Domata Peko in order to add the needed cap space?  Sure, they could, but at what risk?  Both actions would have to be largely accomplished before deeply engaging in contact talks with Fairley or Johnson, and even then, it is a gamble as both could still sign elsewhere.  Further, the Bengals have no way of knowing what sort of long-term commitment these free agents will want structured in any theoretical deal.  With Kevin Zeitler, A.J. Green, and nearly the entire secondary free agents next offseason, Cincinnati has to consider not simply this year’s cap, but next year’s as well.

Next: Is Waiting on Michael Johnson the Right Choice?

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