Two of the league's top-five most productive safeties, according to Pro Football Focus' three-year grade of safeties, were free agents heading into this, somewhat awesome though equally disheartening, week of frantic transactions. The St. Louis Rams signed former Philadelphia Eagles safety Quintin Mikell to a four-year deal worth a reported $28 million. Safety Eric Weddle signed, what some are calling a record deal, a five-year contract worth $40 million with $19 million in guaranteed money, to remain in San Diego.
Based on reports and tweets that seem to be originating from as far as the Aitken basin, the Cincinnati Bengals made no play for either safety. For all of the talk about quarterbacks, running backs and long-snappers, long ago we pointed out that the Bengals biggest need heading into the NFL draft was safety. It was huge. At the time Chris Crocker and Reggie Nelson, both fine and serviceable safeties in their own right, were projected as the team's starting safeties. Hell. They were the only signed safeties for the 2011 season. Since then the Bengals drafted Robert Sands out of West Virginia in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL Draft and reportedly signed Brian Lainhart out of Kent State. There's also the possibility that the Bengals could re-sign Chinedum Ndukwe and Tom Nelson was tendered as an exclusive-rights free agent. Roy Williams and Gibril Wilson isn't expected back.
We largely understand the idea of paying a free agent money to fulfill a position that might be addressed through the draft, or maybe as an undrafted free agent. We get that. But as far as we know, there wasn't even a inquiry into a position that's still hurting. We hate to make subjective analysis (are you kidding, we live for that) but it just seems like the Bengals front office lacks any form of multi-tasking. They are focused on Johnathan Joseph and every player after that they rule "interesting" goes on a list that's written by hand on paper, which is horrifyingly close to poorly attempted drawing of Eric Cartman in the top right corner.
Of course that's not to say that the cost justifies the players. We're not sure if we can make that argument because, well, it's not our money. Perhaps the team has a large-picture plan in place that falls inline with a whistling tune of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (the reference is from Tuesday's press conference).