I expected the Bengals to be at this point in free agency. Making a lot of phone calls, which prompted reports of "interest", left a net result of no signings after the first day of free agency. Some would call it a smart move, electing to let the market settle down after a few days. Some would call it cheap, not doing what must be done to assure your team continues improving. It's a fine line. Do you pay nearly $100 million for Julius Peppers, or do you depend on your own? Antwan Odom came off an impressive first half of the season and Michael Johnson has as much upside as anyone on this team. It's a hypothetical argument. Proven is Peppers. Potential is Odom and Johnson. On second thought, it's a financial argument.
Now, the Bengals were never reportedly interested in Peppers. Cost is likely the reason. When the market goes crazy at the gun of free agency, some would argue that the Bengals might be right in sitting to let the market settle. But there's other arguments that suggest otherwise. One prominent argument is sacrificing a first round pick to acquire Brandon Marshall, which would include a migraine of Katie Blackburn negotiations, ultimately failing. Wouldn't Marshall bring more to the table than any first round pick they could acquire at a position that's on life support?
Did the Bengals mess up by missing out on Anquan Boldin? Surprised. That was my reaction when the Baltimore Ravens traded for the former Cardinals receiver Anquan Boldin. Well, it wasn't the fact he was traded. We all expected that. To be traded for Baltimore's third and fourth round pick? As much as we had heard that the Cardinals would dump Boldin for a third-round pick, to actually see it was still a surprise. What's disheartening is that either the Bengals didn't find the worth in using two mid-level draft picks for a good receiver or that they passed on the idea of negotiating with the Cardinals entirely. Either way, it was a division rival that picked up a good veteran wide receiver and the new reality is that Cincinnati is forced to face him twice a year now.
Geoff Hobson wrote that the Bengals felt "burned" after giving Laveranues Coles a big contract last season. Coles ended up playing his worst non-rookie season in his career and left town with nearly $10 million in his pocket. Personally, I can't blame them. As a result, the Bengals are reportedly more interested in one-year contracts for aging receivers; which makes sense after the failed Coles experience. And Boldin's propensity for injury seems to make a point. But not much of one. Even though Boldin missed nine games in the past two seasons, he still averaged 86 receptions, 1,031 yards receiving, and combined for 24 receiving touchdowns in his past three seasons. And at this point in their respective careers, Boldin is far more established and more threatening to opposing defenses while Coles is nearing the end of his career.
In the end, Boldin agreed to a three-year $25 million contract extension on a contract that will total four years and $28 million.
Kevin Walter heads back to Houston. Thankfully for Kevin Walter, the free agency market exploded with so much inflation, that second-tier receivers could negotiate for bigger contracts they wouldn't have received during the capped seasons. After looking for a big deal, Walter elected to re-sign with the Texans for $21 million over five years with $8 million guaranteed.
The question I had about Walter wasn't just his worth; it was how much was his worth perceived after playing several seasons opposite one of the best receivers in football. You put Mojo on the opposite side of Johnson and Mojo is at least good for 50 receptions. This isn't to take anything away from Walter. Mind you, I liked him with Cincinnati and he's a hard-nose player now with Houston.
But you had to ask yourself this. Was he a significant upgrade over Laveranues Coles who brought more intangibles off the field?