Bengals: Free agency heat is already being cranked up for Carl Lawson
It is quickly becoming apparent that the Cincinnati Bengals’ most coveted free agent this offseason will be pass rusher Carl Lawson. Residents of the Queen City must already be feeling the heat from outside fans, analysts, and organizations.
One quick glance at a social media post from Lawson, and you’ll see a bevy of fans from opposing teams pleading with the Auburn product to come to their team, namely the Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans. Hop on any one of the analytic sites and you’ll find detailed breakdowns of the 25-year-old standout praising his ability and imagining his impact on another team.
It’s easy to see why. Lawson is among some of the most talented edge rushers in the league and possesses a motor that just does not stop. Plus, when you flip on the tape, you get the feeling that he’s still ascending.
Apparently, according to Tyler Dragon of the Cincinnati Enquirer, that’s something the Bengals feel strongly about too. He had this to say about the dynamic between the two parties,
"“Carl Lawson is at the top of the Bengals’ list. I can tell you that.”via @LndsPatterson"
The Bengals aren’t alone in their evaluation of Carl Lawson
The unfortunate news is, there’s a good chance Lawson could be at the top of the list for a number of other teams too. Of course, there’s the previously mentioned Colts and Titans. Then, the Los Angeles Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars are being floated as teams that make a lot of sense as landing spots too.
On the bright side, only two of those four teams seem to have the adequate cap space to chase after Lawson. Over the Cap has the Titans sitting at roughly -$2M in cap space, while the Raiders are nearly at -$19M as things stand.
If either franchise hopes to contend with a Bengals organization that has over $37M in cap space, an awful lot of salary cap manipulation lies ahead of them. At this point, it may not even be feasible for them to offer a contract that surpasses $10M APY, which is what many expect Lawson to command.
Regardless, as free agency inches closer, there may be no hotter name than Lawson’s and, if recent buzz is any indication, there are a handful of teams out there with plenty of cap space that will desire his services. It is clear that de-facto general manager Duke Tobin and the rest of their front office have their work cut out for them to fend off suitors of their best pass rusher.