The Cincinnati Bengals Free Agent Wish List

CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 11: Reggie Nelson #20 of the Cincinnati Bengals runs an interception upfield during the game against the Houston Texans at Paul Brown Stadium on December 11, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Texans defeated the Bengals 20-19. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)

During seasons we've covered the Cincinnati Bengals into the playoffs, the offseason began far more suddenly than the depressing unwinding of a four-win season. It's a shock to the system, if not a bittersweet one for the fact that Cincinnati made the playoffs (a comfort few are taking solace in). That being said, even though the NFL playoffs continue, the offseason has begun for the Cincinnati Bengals. And with that, players have contracts expiring. The free agents we hope returns:

Reggie Nelson

One could argue that Reggie Nelson might be Cincinnati's biggest free agent priority heading into the offseason. Though he struggled in Jacksonville early in his career, Nelson is being given the opportunity to develop under Kevin Coyle and the Bengals were rewarded with what was his best season. Against the pass Nelson allowed an opposing quarterback rating of 73.9 and before the regular season finale, Nelson was one of the team's better run defenders with a positive Pro Football Focus score.

Anthony Collins

Every time there's a need for Anthony Collins to step in as the team's backup tackle, he does it flawlessly and without hesitation. Considering that there's virtually no shot for Collins to start at either tackle positions, there's a good chance Collins could review his options during free agency and perhaps he might find a job starting in this league. But you won't find a better backup tackle if he leaves.

Mike Nugent

Though Mike Nugent finished the season rather inconsistent, missing at least one field goal in three straight (including the wild card loss to the Houston Texans), Nugent was one of the league's most consistent and accurate kickers, converting 27 of 29 during Cincinnati's first 14 games. Along with his accuracy, Nugent knocked nearly half of his kickoffs into the endzone this season.

Bobbie Williams

Well aware that Bobbie Williams is getting long in the tooth, consider this. Nate Livings and Mike McGlynn are also free agents, virtually leaving no starting guards on the roster. At one point during his career, Williams was considered one of the league's better offensive guards. Even as a shadow of his former self, Williams is still a better guard than any player on this team.

Jonathan Fanene

Bengals defensive lineman Jonathan Fanene posted a career-high 6.5 quarterback sacks this season, largely as a situational interior pass rusher. It's the second time in three seasons Fanene has generated at least six sacks.

Pat Sims

Sims suffered an ankle injury against the Cleveland Browns and then, as fate would have it, suffered another injury during practice leading up to the second Steelers meeting. Before Sims' injury the Bengals sported the league's fifth-best rushing defense (92.7). Once Sims went on season-ending Injured Reserve, the Bengals allowed 131 yards rushing per game, including three of the rush defense's worst performances. We're not saying Sims is directly/indirectly responsible. Just that it's hard to ignore.

Brandon Johnson

As one of the team's better coverage linebackers (played below par this year), Brandon Johnson is often playing in nickel packages, but more importantly he's one of the team's best backup linebackers. With guys like Manny Lawson heading into free agency and the unknowns with Keith Rivers, if nothing else Johnson would be a good insurance policy.

Frostee Rucker

Of the defensive linemen on the Cincinnati Bengals, Rucker is probably the least appreciated. According to Pro Football Focus, Rucker is the team's best run defender with a score of 9.5. Though not a consistently great pass rusher, he does get to the quarterback.

Adam Jones

First thing's first. Adam Jones shouldn't be starting with the Cincinnati Bengals. He's immensely talented, but he's equally undependable with his propensity of finding trouble. That being said, once Leon Hall returns with Nate Clements, Adam Jones would be an adequate nickel cornerback or replacement if another series injury depletes the position.

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