One thing that may help the Bengals re-sign Johnathan Joseph is that available free agents include names like Nnamdi Asomugha, Antonio Cromartie, Chris Houston and Ike Taylor. Argue if you wish whether Joseph is better or worse than any of those names, but it helps that more quality cornerbacks are available when free agency starts. Other free agent cornerbacks include Phillip Buchanon, Chris Carr, Drayton Florence, Ellis Hobbs, Lito Sheppard, Fabian Washington and Brian Williams.
Asomugha, who only allowed 13 receptions all season in 2010, is obviously the top free agent cornerback. Cromartie could return to the New York Jets while the Pittsburgh Steelers, not typically big free agent spenders, could still use veteran help in the secondary. The more free agents that are available, the lesser the demand, which increases the prospect that Joseph's expectations for a contract will be lesser; thus allowing the Bengals to enter the bidding war that's coming.
Additionally, Denver Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey, who would have been a free agent, already signed an extension with the Denver Broncos before the league's lockout. The Raiders did the same thing with cornerback Stanford Routt; the team's second starting cornerback set to hit free agency this year. By signing rather expensive contracts, we figure that the Broncos and Raiders won't spend more money on a high profile free agent like Joseph.
Nate Clements, who is scheduled to make nearly $8 million in 2011, will be asked to take a pay cut or he could be released (or traded). If he's released, he'll enter a pool of free agent cornerbacks, saturating the demand and lowering the potential overpayment for a premium player.
We're not saying that the demand for Joseph will drop significantly. No. It probably won't lower his expectations for a big payday contract that usually comes after an expired rookie contract. But it will prevent teams from going all out as soon as the free agency gun is fired, allowing the Bengals time to sit back, dissect their interests and put together a deal that may satisfy Joseph. A deal that we project may be similar to Champ Bailey's four-year contract worth between $43 and $47 million with $22 million guaranteed.