Now that it seems that the lockout could possibly come to an end within the next couple weeks to a month, saving the 2011 season, owners and general managers have found something new to worry about: free agency.
Usually, teams would have had the entire off season to fill the holes on their depth charts with the draft and free agency. However, this offseason, the lockout has stopped teams from being able to re-sign their own players or sign new ones. Once the lockout does come to an end, though, free agency will open and teams will be able to address their needs.
However, it won't be as simple as it usually is (if you can call something like free agency simple). Where teams usually would have had an entire summer to find the free agents they would like to sign, they'll only have a couple weeks to sign players and get them into camp.
According the The New York Post's Bart Hubbuch, one AFC GM said that free agency could be "chaos."
"Chaos," and AFC GM told The Post yesterday when asked about the possibility of a two- or one-week free-agency period. "It wouldn't be impossible, but just getting all the physicals [vetted] in that short of time would be a problem."
A shortened free agency period could cause problems for the Cincinnati Bengals, who could really use the help of some of their veteran free agents from last year to be successful in 2011, like Cedric Benson, Johnathan Joseph and Brandon Johnson. If there is a sudden rush to sign players in a shortened free agent period, the price of sought after players could be driven up. The Bengals may be able to retain Benson and Johnson but if the price tag attached to Joseph is driven up by a demand and shortened free agency period, they may get stuck with Adam Jones and Leon Hall, which wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing, assuming they could stay healthy, but what would happen when both Jones and Hall are free agents when the 2011 season ends? The Bengals could find themselves in an even worse situation heading into the 2012 season with little to no experience in the secondary.
For the Bengals, the sooner the NFL owners and players come to an agreement and the earlier free agency opens, the better.