When you find yourself refreshing Joe Reedy's tweets and ProFootballTalk every 15 minutes for a few days, it's safe to say you might be losing the forest for the trees. I never before so much as waded into the pool of manic free agency update obsession, but I dove in head first this year.
I am wondering if that made my judgment worse.
We signed Antonio Bryant. At first a supporter of making a big run at Marshall, I talked myself into Bryant being a better football and business decision over the course of my posts.
But as with all large purchases, sometimes you can't tell how you really feel until you finally buy it and bring it home. And the more I reflect, the less good I feel about it.
But my issue is not necessarily with Bryant, who will hopefully be a fine player and solid complement to Chad, it is more with what it says about the Brown Family. I credited them yesterday with landing the top UFA out there. But really, why did they deserve much credit when:
- They put themselves in the position of needing to take expensive chances on free agent receivers in the first place by letting TJ go and squandering many draft picks on WRs who so far have not produced
- They merely replaced the Coles contract they planned on having with a slightly more expensive contract for Bryant (front-loaded payments for Coles 4 year, $7 mil/year deal do mean the Bengals did cost themselves more than just keeping Coles without replacing him)
- They chose to forgo the bold opportunity (albeit not without risk) to majorly upgrade the offense and secure a top wide receiving talent for a long time - probably balking at cost. But with non-guaranteed contracts and the Bengals track record of drafting, neither the cost of the contract or the loss of a draft pick would be able to derail the franchise for any extended period of time
The Bryant deal was nice. But unlike my initial thoughts, I don't think it signals any change in the way Mikey does things. A run at Marshall would have. I once wrote the Bengals basic strategy in the draft was to "dream small and give fans the middle finger", and I feel like perhaps this move represents a less egregious version of that.
In the end, Antonio Bryant plus our first round draft pick may end up exceeding in value what we might have gotten out of Marshall. However, instead of making the boldest move possible, our management just made a decently savvy swap of Coles for Bryant. I guess it's nice to see they do make some savvy moves these days, instead of approximately zero savvy moves from 1991-2002, but this signing does not represent a meaningful departure from the past.