Update: The Bengals just released Coles. Logical given his hefty-ish salary. We officially have no #2 WR now, so there is no excuse for the Bengals not to explore free agency aggressively. Unless they want to insult their fans (oh right, I forgot). And Matt Jones DOES NOT count, fan boy.
I am on the record publicly stating I don't think we can solve our receiving problems for next year through the draft. Odds are anyone taken would not contribute significantly until 2011...and it's looking like that season won't exist anyway.
So that leaves free agency or trades. Not exactly an area where Mike "You're doin' a heckuva job" Brownie demonstrates excellence. And besides, Mikey already made his huge splash with Matt Jones. Mission accomplished we can all agree.
Regardless, there is still lots of talk about the many receivers available as free agents this year. So, to clear things up, here is a breakdown of the 2010 free agents (though some may have signed since I wrote this and I may have missed a few, apologies in advance).
To start, all free agents are not created equal. Restricted free agents (RFAs) may come at quite high a price, such as a first round pick in this year's draft. So we'll look at the unencumbered guys first, who the Bengals can sign without forfeiting anything. These are the unrestricted free agents (UFAs) that I think might matter:
Here's the question you need to ask yourself about UFAs: would prefer to have any of these them as a replacement for Coles (assuming we cut him) at the same cost or less. Simple.
My take: I mostly agree with my boy Sly on TO. Just not worth the risk/cost with other potential options out there.
Bryant and Walter probably represent the most intriguing options. Bryant may ask for more money than he is worth though. Regardless, he should get a look. Walter plays a good complementary role to Andre Johnson in Houston, no reason to think he couldn't do the same with Chad here. He's big, he's young and he's a poor man's TJ imitation that should come at the right price.
I don't know much about Burleson but something tells me he is not the answer. I say every year Mason is getting old...then he goes out and produces. But seriously, he's old. Also, he's played against the Bengals enough to know he should stay away.
Bottom line: the Bengals should cast a line and do some fishing with the UFAs.