Picking what the Bengals are going to do in Free Agency is a crap shoot at best. The Bengals will be in good shape cap wise with the salary cap expected to rise another $10 million or more this year; this will put the Bengals in a position to re-sign some of their free agents. Estimates put the NFL salary cap at approximately at $168 million, which means the Bengals would have the 12th most cap space in the league at $47,934,588.
Whitworth is almost a must for the Bengals, I know he is a little long in the tooth, but he still grades out as a top 5 tackle in the league. The big question is what are the teams, options if the Bengals don’t re-sign him?
Zeitler was named second team right guard by Pro Football Focus; he had a rough season sandwiched in between Cedric Ogbuehi and Russell Bodine, which makes his production even more surprising. Steelers guard David DeCastro resigned for five years 50 Million dollars in October. My fear is the Bengals will not be willing to pay him that kind of money. Hopefully, he stays, but I don’t see it.
Peko is getting up there in years, and with last years fourth round pick Andrew Billings healthy, it looks like Peko may be done here. Peko loves Cincinnati and may stay if he takes a lot less money, but I don’t see it.
LaFell had a rough start to the season but was very productive over the last half of the season. LaFell gives the Bengals a veteran receiver, and with Boyd and Core on board, this could be an excellent receiver corps next year.
Kirkpatrick has not lived up to expectations so far in his career, but he did show improvement this year. With a Rookie in William Jackson, Denard and an aging Adam Jones I think the Bengals will try to keep Dre.
Dansby is long in the tooth, and this year I think that showed. He had a tough time covering passes from the linebacker position.
Winston doesn’t cost a lot of money, and he is a solid player, he will be back.
Hunt got a fair amount of playing time this year and had a whopping 17 tackles. When you throw in his zero sacks over the last two years, you will find no the Bengals swung and missed on this pick big time! This experiment should have been over at least after last year.
Gillberry to me is a solid player who doesn’t cost a lot of money. I wish they would resign him, but I don’t think they will. Don’t be surprised if he returns during next season, though.
More often injured than not, he is coming off a torn ACL and did not play last year,
Mainly a special teams player, he had two tackles last year.
Open competition at kicker, Bullock will not last.
Burkhead does whatever is asked of him and most importantly he does it well. They need to resign Burkhead, but these are the Bengals so that I won’t hold my breath.
In closing, the Bengals have plenty of room under the salary cap to resign Zeitler, Whitworth, LaFell and Burkhead and they will still be well under the cap. They need all four players, but they especially need Whitworth and Zeitler back. The offensive line play was terrible this year, and they were the only two bright spots. Bodine and Ogbuehi were atrocious, and Clint Boiling played injured most of the year, they cannot afford to let Whitworth and Zeitler get away. Of course, the Bengals will be screwed on the offensive line as long as they have Paul Alexander coaching the line. His continued inability to either select the right lineman to draft or his failure to coach them is killing this teams window of opportunity, which is closing rapidly.
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