The Cincinnati Bengals appear to be gearing up to make big changes to their roster. Here, we look at their salary cap situation and what it could mean for their rebuild.
The Cincinnati Bengals were the last team in the NFL to fill their head coaching vacancy. As a result, Zac Taylor got a late start filling out his staff and evaluating the talent on the roster. While at first there was optimism, it is clear the first time head coach needs more time to get his bearings. That much has been proven in the dysfunction the team has experienced this season.
In recent weeks, the Bengals have made some bold, uncharacteristic moves. First came the benching of Andy Dalton. Most recently, they cut veteran linebacker Preston Brown. Could more big changes be on the way?
Taylor and his staff certainly seem to be positioning themselves to go to more drastic measures to establish a winning culture. At 0-9, it needs to be that way. Taylor has made it obvious he isn’t happy with the current roster and that he also isn’t afraid to go back on contracts the front office just recently made. Everything seems to be pointing to the fact that the organization is ready to gut the roster, go into full rebuild mode, and be active in free agency.
For a team that is hurting so badly for talent and depth at the linebacker position, cutting Brown seems to be a head scratching decision. However, if they plan to be active in free agency, it makes much more sense. They could be attempting to get rookie Germaine Pratt as much experience as possible while eyeing an outside veteran to lead the group next year.
As of right now, the team is projected to have around 60 million dollars in cap space going into the offseason, according to overthecap.com. That figure puts them in the middle of the pack, at 13th most in the NFL. However, the Bengals have the ability to increase their spending power in a hurry, should they choose to do so.
The first and most obvious candidate to clear cap space is recently benched quarterback Andy Dalton. If they happen to find a trade partner this off season or cut him prior to June 1st, they stand to save a whopping $17.7 million. Those savings would rocket them into the top ten of the league in terms of cap space.
Another likely candidate for trade or release is disgruntled offensive tackle Cordy Glenn. After his recent injury dispute with the team, it appears his days in stripes are numbered. Even fully healthy now, Taylor has given no indication he’ll play Glenn any time soon. By getting the former Georgia Bulldog’s contract off the books they save an additional $9.25 million.
Finally, if they are serious about clearing cap space, they could choose to walk away from long time starter and locker room leader Dre Kirkpatrick, who was recently put on Injured Reserve. They would incur almost $3 million in dead cap, but save $8.45 million
With these three moves alone, they would have the third most cap space in the NFL as it stands today, wielding just over $98 million.
Of course that cap space will diminish given the number of free agents the team will need to re-sign this offseason, mainly A.J. Green. You also have to figure in that the front office routinely keeps several million in savings for draft picks and injury insurance. Regardless, the Bengals could have the money to be serious players in free agency for the first time in their history.
Sitting at 0-9, Taylor and the front office may have no other choice. If they opt to gut the roster, they could have the freedom to bring in veterans that they want to help shape the roster in Taylor’s image.
However, it may come at the cost of long time fan favorites. Whatever the plans may be, there is a lot of work to be done before Cincinnati fields a competitive team. If recent moves are any indication, the Bengals may not be afraid to do it in a bold fashion.