The Bengals finished the 2011 season with a total cap of $103,415,200 ($17.6M below the cap). Next year we have 34 players under contract for a cap charge of $71,579,200. An additional 6 players are not under contract but restricted (RFA: LS Clark Harris, FB Chris Pressley, LB Dan Skuta; EFA: RB Cedric Peerman, S Jeromy Miles, LB Vincent Rey). With an estimated team cap of $125,565,000 that's almost $54M in cap room to start improving the team. Some of this will go towards the draft picks, including the extra 1st rounder picked up on the Palmer trade, but given our position in the draft these contracts won't be significant.
There are three factors that should curb your enthusiasm: (1) this team won't spend its full cap room. Expect it to be below $110M just like 2011. Given the poor ticket sales and lack of marketing prowess of this team, I just don't see the cash flow to support Redskins-like spending. Plus the "forced spending" via a cap minimum doesn't kick in until 2013. (2) There are a lot of teams that have huge cap room too. Only the Steelers are currently over the cap with the Raiders, Giants, Panthers, Cowboys and Jets not too far behind. So despite the large number of quality free agents available, there are several teams competing for their services. And finally (3) the franchise tag isn't as expensive as it used to be, so look for many of the quality FA's to come off the market due to the tag.