The Cincinnati Bengals have 14 unrestricted free agents heading into this off-season’s free agency period. If they leave, why should you blame them?
The Bengals have big names like Andrew Whitworth, Kevin Zeitler, and Dre Kirkpatrick set to hit free agency, 14 in all. However, just like last year, a few will most likely move on from their Bengals career.
Whitworth has said he wants to return as a Bengal next season but is not quite done with his career in the NFL either way. He has been an offensive captain now since 2009 and has never played another snap for any other team. Whitworth is coming off a $9 million contract and the Bengals can’t afford that for decent blocking and holding calls in almost every game.
He is however still the Bengals best option at tackle, but are the Bengals the best option for him? The Bengals will have to offer money in the neighborhood of $7-$8 million to even keep his interest, with other teams likely to offer him eight-figure salaries.
Kirkpatrick is the most difficult to pin down on what the Bengals should do with his talent. He has shown improvements year to year but has never blossomed to his top cornerback potential. It is hard to argue that last season was his best, but early struggles cast shadows on the question of his ability to play at a high level consistently.
He benefits from a defensive struggle by teams like the Carolina Panther, who lost Josh Norman last season, and Atlanta, whose offense has been spot on with difficulty in stopping other teams from scoring.
Luckily for Cincinnati, this is a flooded position. But, don’t think he will take a discount just to stay. He will probably look for $5-$6 million before free agency and his value will only go up as fewer players become available.