John Clayton: Bengals Could be Affected Negatively by New Salary Plan

If you've been paying attention, you know there is a lot of optimism in the air that the the NFL lockout could be over soon. The Owners got together in Chicago to discuss the lockout from their end, something that they haven't done before, and then negotiations with players began again almost immediately after in Boston.

There is finally a sense of urgency to get a deal done, now that July, and mini camps, could be threatened. During the owners meeting, a rumor surfaced of a possible new proposal that could be sent to the players. One of the points of that deal is that owners would be required to spend 90-93 percent of the salary cap each year.

Before the former CBA expired, owners, according to ESPN's John Clayton, were required to spend 86 percent of the salary cap, but some teams would create phony incentives that they never planned to pay out to get over the 86 percent. Once those incentives weren't reached, the teams would pocket that money (sound like anybody you know?).

Now, in an effort to get a deal made, the owners have pushed the 90-93 percent of the salary cap almost all the way up to 100 percent, and they have to spend that money in cash, not just in made up incentives.

If the salary cap is $120 million in 2011, teams would have to spend almost all of that money to be within the minimal payroll requirements. Clayton believes that this will be good for some teams and bad for others.

For the Bengals, it's a bad thing.

1. Cincinnati Bengals: Frugal owner Mike Brown loves having a low payroll. He has to like having a payroll of $77.2 million along with $35.9 million of cap room. Quarterback Carson Palmer is expected to sit out the season, taking $11.5 million off the books. If the Bengals cut or trade receiver Chad Ochocinco, they would save an additional $6.35 million. In order to get to the proposed floor, the Bengals would have to spend close to $60.65 million in free agency, re-signings and the draft. That's too big a budget for the Bengals.

Luckily for the Bengals, they can use chunks of that money to re-sign Johnathan Joseph, Cedric Benson and Brandon Johnson as well as bringing Brian Leonard, Jonathan Fanene and Kyle Cook back to the team. They could also use the money to bring in some talent on the offensive line and defensive line to help build the Bengals from the inside out, which is something that, you know, good teams do. While Clayton thinks that this is a bad thing for the Bengals, I'd love a new rule that forces the Bengals to spend more money than they've been used to spending. 

Who knows, if the new CBA forces Mike Brown to spend a large amount of cash, the Bengals could be more successful than any of us expect them to be.

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