Guide to Bengals in free agency: How much cap space; team needs; own free agents
CINCINNATI (WKRC) - While the NFL free agency signing period doesn't begin until 4 p.m. on Wednesday the Bengals' reported trade with the Buffalo Bills for offensive tackle Cordy Glenn will have an impact on what the team can spend in free agency.
Glenn still has three years left on his contract worth $30 million, including $11.25 million that goes toward available salary cap space for the Bengals in 2018 ($9.25 milion base salary and a $2 million roster bonus).
That leaves them with roughly $6.5 million left to spend in free agency, and while the terrific website SpotRac.com, which details every team's salary cap situation extensively well, has the Bengals with $28.5 million in cap space the following should be noted:
- There is $11 million in rollover money from 2017 (the difference between what the Bengals spent and what the salary cap was) included in the available cap space, but the majority of that is set aside to be used for contract extensions. Defensive tackle Geno Atkins and defensive end Carlos Dunlap are a couple of key players who will be free agents after the 2018 season unless they are signed to contract extensions. Click here for the complete list of Bengals who are slated to be free agents after the 2018 season.
- There is roughly $11 million in other costs for which the Bengals account that isn't reflected in the available cap space: projected injuries in which the team may have to sign other players ($5 million); projected incentives ($2 million); workout, dead space, practice squad and undrafted college free agents who eventually don't make the team ($4 million for all of that combined).
It is possible that the Bengals use some of the rollover money if there is a free agent or two they want to sign this season, so let's say they have $10 million left to spend.
Here is a look at some general info about free agency, the team's unrestricted free agents, plus an analysis of what they still need to address either through free agency or in the draft:
FREE AGENCY PERIOD: The 48-hour legal tampering period began at noon on Monday, which allows teams to negotiate contracts with available free agents, and the signing period begins at 4 p.m. on Wednesday. That is also the time that the new league year begins as well, which is when the trade with the Bills for Glenn-- that also has the teams swapping first-round picks and a later-round pick-- will become official.
BENGALS FREE AGENTS (all are unrestricted): QB AJ McCarron; TE Tyler Eifert; CB Adam Jones; MLB Kevin Minter; C Russell Bodine; OL Andre Smith; P Kevin Huber; RB Jeremy Hill; RB Cedric Peerman; DE Chris Smith (reportedly signing with Cleveland Browns); DT Pat Sims; OT Eric Winston.
OFFSEASON TEAM NEEDS TO ADDRESS: Left tackle (addressed through trade for Glenn); middle linebacker; safety; backup quarterback; possibly center; offensive line depth.
THE SKINNY: Let's say for arguments sake the Bengals have $10 million they are still able (and willing) to spend on free agents. That doesn't allow them to do a whole lot.
They definitely have an eye on adding a veteran safety who is more adept at forcing turnovers than George Iloka, and if they find the right one they may even let Iloka go, which would save roughly $4.4 million in cap space.
McCarron is going elsewhere, because he wants the chance to start, but the market is very tight for him.
The team has no interest in re-signing Hill.
Eifert will be interesting, because the Bengals probably won't sign him to a long-term deal, nor should they based on his injury history. Some team might, however. The Bengals will likely try to re-sign him for a one-year deal that is heavily incentive-laden.
Jones was let go last Friday to save $5.5 million in salary cap money this season, but the team is interested in bringing him back for less than that. Jones said he would like to come back, but it's possible another team will be willing to spend more than the Bengals are willing to pay him.
They are probably willing to bring Bodine back, too, if the price is right. However, there are three quality centers they have a chance to draft in the first two rounds (Billy Price, James Daniels and Frank Ragnow).
Huber will also be an interesting decision. He made $3.17 million last season, the last of a five-year, $14 million deal he signed in 2013. If there is money left for Huber and the price is right the team will sign him, but they aren't going to break the bank to get him back even though he is among the best punters in the NFL.
The Bengals were hoping to re-sign Smith, but he is reportedly going to sign with the Cleveland Browns.