The whole idea of Cincinnati's offseason when the new league year begins, with a vote from both owners and players likely ratifying the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, is the amount of money the team will be able to spend for free agency with a rather high salary cap floor. The reported figure for this year's salary cap will be $120 million and the Bengals will have to spend at least 90% of that to fall north of the proposed salary cap floor.
According to ESPN's John Clayton, as the roster is set right now, the Bengals are $35.9 million under the cap. Thanks to the rookie wage scale, the team won't be forced to allocate as much money to that as they did in the old CBA.
Additionally if Carson Palmer and Chad Ochocinco are not on this year's roster, the Bengals payroll falls to $60 million with Mike Brown being forced to spend "$46.8 million just to reach the league's new cash floor." Add Antwan Odom and the Bengals save another $2.9 million in cap room.
Much of the money will likely be spent on extensions to guys like Leon Hall, Jerome Simpson, Kyle Cook, Andre Caldwell, Pat Sims and maybe even Reggie Nelson, all of whom are free agents after the 2011 season (Cook is actually already a free agent). On the other hand, that same money could be used on current free agents like Johnathan Joseph, Brandon Johnson, Dhani Jones, Chinedum Ndukwe, Brian Leonard, Jonathan Fanene, Cedric Benson and take-your-pick favorite available free agent and still have cash left over under the cap.
The Bengals have options. That's why if the Collective Bargaining Agreement is voted on by players and owners Thursday, it'll make for a lot of fun relatively quickly for Bengals fans. And by fun, we probably mean frustrating.