The Sporting News mocks the Bengals picking Brian Orakpo, a defensive end from Texas. We're not suggesting that the Bengals don't need a pass-rushing, havoc-creating, defensive end. We do. However, we're not convinced that the Bengals will add a third costly defensive end. Whether they should, or whether you demand it, is pointless. We know the Bengals. We know how they think.
After Robert Geathers' 10.5-sack season in 2006, the team awarded him a six-year deal, worth $33.75 million -- $12.5 million guaranteed and $1.25 million in incentives linked to sacks and Pro Bowl berths. Last off-season, the Bengals added Antwan Odom, signing him to a five-year deal worth $29.5 million and $11.5 million in guarantees. That's $63.25 million tied to two players at defensive end; $24 million of it guaranteed.
The Bengals had a $109,727,880 million payroll during the 2008 season; Odom had the fourth highest hit against the cap ($5.7 million) while Geathers had the seventh largest value ($4,233,333). We're not sure the 2009 values, but if they don't go up, at best they'll sink minutely -- provided the bonuses and guaranteed money that highly impacts the cap value isn't front loaded. Geathers' base salary will go from $2.2 million in 2008, to $2.4 million in 2009. Then it goes up to $3.25 million, $3.95 million ending in 2012 at $4.2 million. Odom will make $3.4 million over 2009 and 2010 respectively, cashing in 2011 with $4.5 million and $5.3 million in 2012.
This is absolutely relevant, because you have to incorporate the issue of having the contract of a sixth overall pick in the NFL draft. Last year's sixth pick, Vernon Gholston, signed a five-year deal worth $40 million, with over $20 million guaranteed. LaRon Landry, the 2007 sixth-pick, signed a five-year deal with the Redskins worth $41.5 million, $17.5 million guaranteed. That's a lot of bling for three guys.
The Bills, Ravens, Packers, Texans, Patriots and Colts have two defensive ends, inside the top-30, relative to the value against the cap for their respective team. The Bengals do too. Adding a third would be something no other NFL teams has -- three defensive ends in the top-30 that hit their team's cap the most.
Then there's the issue of the looming uncapped seasons, result of the owners unanimously ending their agreement with the players' union in 2011. None of which would really apply big to this argument. The bigger points of an uncapped season are extending free agency from four years of service to six years; teams will have two additional tags (one franchise, two transition), and general free agency restrictions based on the post-season.
Since a player's eligibility for unrestricted free agency jumps two seasons, and a team has the option of using three tags, there's not a likelihood of a strong free agency class during these seasons. However, the top eight teams with the best record, have to deal with an odd spending restriction. As we understand it, if you were a playoff team, and you sign a free agent, you have to dump the value of the money you spent on that player to remain de facto from the season before. This would benefit the Bengals, while the successful teams would struggle to improve their values, or their depth at least. We're not sure how tags work into the equation. On the other hand, because of the extended service requirement for free agency, the three available tags, and the weird post-season spending, there just won't be big free agents out there. Not that it matters, the Bengals aren't spenders in free agency as it is. So again, none of the looming uncapped seasons affects Odom or Geathers considering they'd complete their sixth season after 2009 (again, not that it matters, they'll be under contract through 2012). However, the one thing that could affect us, is, as we understand it, the prorated bonus moneys wouldn't be spread over the life of the contract, as it is now, further disabling teams to acquire and sign free agents. This would greatly affect rookies, in our case and enable bigger spenders, that didn't make the playoffs the season before, to soak up the better free agents.
Either way, back to point, we just don't see the Bengals drafting a defensive end. It might be a need... no, it is a need; we need to put more pressure on the quarterback to allow our secondary to make more plays on the ball, rather than the ball runner/receiver, putting them in a position to create turnovers. But we believe the offensive line requires a hellva lot more focus.