Despite my post two days ago, for some reason, my douche bag side has an unfounded shred of hope tomorrow. While this free agent crop is being labeled as weak, there are some decent free agents out there that could fill a need before the draft. Let's put it this way...among other things, the Bengals could obviously use help at Center and Offensive Tackle. The Linebackers could use an upgrade too. The same goes with DT but there just aren't a whole lot of them out there this year other than Haynesworth who will be signing a ridiculous contract with Not Us. Anyway, given our needs at Center, Tackle and LB, why wouldn't we aggressively go after Centers Jason Brown (Baltimore), Jeff Saturday (Indianapolis) and Matt Birk (Minnesota), or Tackles Khalif Barnes (Jacksonville), Jon Runyan (Philly) or John Stinchcomb (New Orleans)? Given the plethora of free agent Linebackers out there (Ray Lewis, Bart Scott, Jonathan Vilma, Michael Boley, Mike Peterson), why not try to land one?
Signing a player at one or more of these positions fills a need before the draft, eliminates a need to draft the position and allows us to focus on other positions in the draft. When one could craft an argument that we need help at every position aside from QB, maybe Guard and maybe Corner, obviously, this would be the wisest move for the Bengals, which of course doesn't mean anything. When I read the names listed above, there is a distant cry from my d-bag side. Like a huge douche, I will likely check ProFootballTalk multiple times tomorrow on the very slim, outside chance the Bengals are mentioned in connection with the above names. Last year this gave me the luxury of following the Shaun Rogers "trade" in real time, followed by me punching myself in the face later that night upon receiving a text message from a friend that said "We didn't get Rogers because we are stupid."
But my d-bag side is forgetful and naive. Even though we have among the largest cap space in the league with now, about $33 million dollars under the salary cap (the NFL announced yesterday that teams will have an additional $4 million of cap room to work with this year (h/t Stipe Hype)), Baghdad Hob is already conditioning us to stop being douches and to not expect any signings in the first wave of free agency:
...All of this against a backdrop of new accounting rules. With $5.48 million already out in tender offers, another estimated $5 million budgeted for the draft picks, teams aren't allowed to roll over incentives or push dead money into 2010. Some type of pad has to be left with all dead money and incentives being absorbed into '09.
So that's $10.48 million dollars budgeted for Shayne Graham (which for the record, is stupid when the Bengals have so many other pressing needs), Brandon Johnson and every draft pick, which leaves about $22.5 million. Is it me or does that seem like a lot of money? No matter if a cushion needs to be built in or not, every team needs to build in any such cushion and according to PFT, the Bengals have the 6th most amount of cap space in the league so we should still be in as good as a position as any to sign a quality free agent or two, right? Not surprisingly, once again, the logic doesn't add up to anything other than the Bengals simply creating another excuse not to have to spend money. This year, the excuse is the cushion. Last year, the excuses were the allocation of money to re-sign our own and the dead money in not trading Chad Johnson (even though we were still decently under the cap and wound up cutting Willie Anderson, Rudi Johnson and Deltha O'Neal just before the season).
Regardless of what I think, the writing is on the wall. Baghdad Hob is conditioning us and other than a couple of worthless blurbs about Jeff Saturday and Kelley Washington who has 1 catch for 3 yards in the last two years, there have been zero rumors about the Bengals being interested in anyone. We ain't signing any of these guys. But hey, we might sign CEDRIC BENSON and CHRIS CROCKER, which is HUGE! Correct me if I'm wrong but, (a) weren't they on this same team last year that went 4-11-1, and (b) didn't we sign them off the freaking street? It's a simple equation really:
Last Year's equation: (7-9 from previous season) minus (Madieu Williams, Landon Johnson, Justin Smith, Deltha O'Neal, Willie Anderson, Rudi Johnson) plus (Ben Utecht, Antwan Odom) plus (draft picks) = 4-11-1
This Year's equation: (4-11-1 from previous season) minus (T.J. Houshmandzadeh, [any others]) plus (signed free agents) + (draft picks) = ?
If you go 4-11-1, lose your best receiver, make no coaching changes and sign minimal free agents, what the f*** do you think is going to happen?