Now that we got the regular season out of the way, let the real work begin

Now that the regular season is over (and we'll do reviews, and all that jazz for the next week or two), I wanted to collect potential stories that we should keep an eye on.

Franchise Tag. There's a lot of hoopla about the team using their franchise tag. Adam Schefter says that the Bengals won't use it on Houshmandzadeh. Lewis calls BS. Houshmandzadeh doesn't want it. So that basically means that no one has any idea if Houshmandzadeh will be tagged, and that the player potentially being tagged is royally pissed off about the possibility.

Alternatively thinking, perhaps the Schefter report is correct. With that in mind, the Bengals could very well use the franchise tag on either Cedric Benson or Shayne Graham, if neither can work out a long-term deal with the team. However, we do expect Benson to sign long-term and that the team could franchise Graham for the remarkably lower cost to tag a place kicker. And what might convince Benson to sign? Carson Palmer's return .

The Bengals looking at GM nugget. When PFT said that the Bengals could be looking in the direction of picking a General Manager, 90% of those associated with the Bengals (media, fans, websites) assumed that it meant that the Bengals were actually in the process of conducting auditions. "No, you say, yes, Mr. Brown, of course we'll sign him. Forget it. Next?"

We think the worst thing that could have happened was this report being published. Because it brought about a hope of something that won't likely happen until Mike Brown retires -- which is actually looking to be sooner than one would expect.

Carson Palmer's recovery. Of course, this was the story after the Bengals lost the Wild Card game (I'm not sure if I am supposed to call that the 2005 off-season, or the 2006 off-season). However, this time it's less panic-like. Palmer practiced the week leading up to the season finale against the Chiefs. Palmer said after that game, "I actually threw against the defense on Friday. Everything went well. I threw pretty much 100 percent."

If Palmer can't go by the regular season, or misses significant off-season work, then the world will be on his ass asking asking, "Why didn't you just have the surgery during the season?" With Ryan Fitzpatrick expected to hit the free agency market looking for starting gigs, the Bengals will be with Jordan Palmer (Rowe is now in Seattle). So Carson's return is of the utmost importance; as is looking at the market for another serviceable veteran backup.

Other stories that could be of interest.

  • Will the Bengals offer Stacy Andrews a low, prove it, deal after suffering a major injury against Cleveland that likely murdered his expected big payday?
  • Will the Bengals sign John Thornton to a minimal contract to keep the depth and sustain lockerroom leadership?
  • The obvious: the 2009 NFL Draft and the opening of free agency.
  • Will Bob Bratkowski stay or go? I'm leaning more towards sticking around, only because of the injuries this team suffered, along with an offensive line that didn't stabilize until late in the season. That's their thinking, not mine. Mine is get 'em the hell out.
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