MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 16: NFL owners John Mara (L) of the New York Giants and Mike Brown of the Cincinnati Bengals leave court-ordered mediation at the U.S. Courthouse on May 16, 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Mediation was ordered after a hearing on an antitrust lawsuit filed by NFL players against the NFL owners that followed a breakdown of labor talks between the two in March. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
John Clayton writes that "Mike Brown loves having a low payroll" claiming that "the Bengals would have to spend close to $60.65 million in free agency." Doing the subjective business of ditching contracts that would be owed to Carson Palmer and Chad Ochocinco if they elect not to return next season (by their own accord or not), the Bengals would have a lot of money that they'd be forced to spend on payroll if the league increases the spending floor. Recent reports suggest that recent owners meetings have discussed increasing the spending floor from 90-93 percent of the total cap limit. Requiring the team to spend money is nice and all, but I'm pretty sure a provision in the CBA that required teams to have a general manager that was not the owner or related to "the family" would be nice.
But as the Sports Xchange's Len Pasquarelli points out, Mike Brown is already paying more than the proposed spending floor. Pasquarelli makes another point that's the true nature of the Mike Brown legacy.
Unlike many of his free-spending peers, Brown and the Bengals don't believe in investing future money. The collective mindset of the Bengals is to prefer a "pay as you go" philosophy, one that attempts to avoid so-called "dead money." It might surprise a lot of people, but Cincinnati often comes closer to the cap, in terms of actual payroll, than some franchises with higher cap numbers.
Our issue with Brown hasn't been about perceived cheapness. Our issue was greatly hammered home by Pasquarelli, saying that Brown "doesn't believe in investing future money."
Case in point. During the offseason, heading into Eric Steinbach's final year under contract, the Bengals signed Levi Jones and Willie Anderson to long-term deals. Anderson, who signed a five-year extension during the offseason heading into the 2006 season, was cut two years later because he refused to take a paycut. Levi Jones signed a six-year contract extension around the same time and was released soon after the team drafted Andre Smith during the 2009 NFL Draft. Both tackles are now out of the NFL.
Robert Geathers had a tremendous season in 2006 where he posted 10.5 quarterback sacks. The team rewarded Geathers with a six-year contract worth $33 million. In the 58 games since signing his long-term deal, Geathers has just now equaled his sack total from 2006 -- which averages out to one sack every 5.52 games played.
Same thing with Antwan Odom, who posted 4.5 quarterback sacks during his first three seasons with the Tennessee Titans -- averaging a quarterback sack every eight games played. Odom posted a career-high eight quarterback sacks in 2007, which happened to be a contract year. The Bengals signed Odom to a five-year deal worth $29.5 million. And during his three season with the Bengals, Odom has missed 26 of 48 games, been suspended four games after violating the league's substance policy and posted 11 total sacks in Cincinnati -- five of which were in one game.
If you prorate Odom's contract over five seasons, the Bengals have already paid him $17.7 million in base salary, which equates to $1.6 million per quarterback sack. And we're not even talking about bonuses. Granted. Predicting injuries isn't really the Bengals fault -- unless you want to make an argument about the team's crack medical staff. But the truth is, the Bengals do not spend their money well.
Another example is Carson Palmer. Reportedly signing a deal that would have pushed escalators to a six-year contract (which they did), Palmer would have been signed through the 2008 season. Instead, the Bengals signed Palmer to a six-year extension through the 2014 season after the quarterback put together, what would become, his best performance with the team. Think about it. Palmer sat out in 2003, was an 8-8 quarterback with an 18-18 touchdown-interception ratio in 2004 and played out of his mind in 2005. One great season and the Bengals sealed him up. In fairness, it did make sense at the time but their history of signing players to long-term deals after having one good season is endless.
The good news?
Not only would the Bengals have to spend a lot of money to get over the proposed spending floor, it likely forces them to sign Johnathan Joseph to a long-term deal with far more acceptance to sign guys like Brandon Johnson, Jonathan Fanene and Cedric Benson. And Leon Hall? Just maybe keeping our best two cornerbacks is far more realistic than we originally thought.