MAILBAG: More Contract Extensions, Brian Leonard Vs. Dan Herron, Wallace Gilberry

Sam Greenwood

You guys are great with the tweets, comments on the site and our facebook page. Make sure that you're heard and seen with our mailbag series.

[We're revitalizing the mailbag again, discussing topics that you, our readers, email, tweet and comment on Facebook. We'll also take a few FanPosts and expand on our thoughts for additional discussion. If you have a question you want us to examine, or just want to see your name on these posts, please email me at joshkirkendall@gmail.com]

+ @MikeBrownFaux asked if it's possible that the Bengals re-sign Geno Atkins, Andy Dalton, A.J. Green and Carlos Dunlap when their respective rookie contracts expire.

The benefit Cincinnati faces boils down to having a significant number available against the cap. Factor that the cap is further reduced when contracts expire for Robert Geathers, Andre Smith, Rey Maualuga, Michael Johnson, Adam Jones, Terence Newman, Nate Clements, Thomas Howard, Manny Lawson, Dan Skuta and Pat Sims. And those are the wealthiest contracts (not nearly all of them).

Obviously some will return with higher salary cap values with multi-year deals, but that number can be significantly manipulated to limit the impact early during those respective contracts. If done right, the front office can set the stage for Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap this offseason, both of whom with value increasing with every snap taken in the NFL. Then you're talking about franchise-level deals in two years for Andy Dalton and A.J. Green, neither of whom are eligible for an extension for some time.

Earlier this year, many people never bought the excuse for saving cap space when the team was hesitant on affecting their roster early during free agency; not that historical evidence suggest other conclusions. Cincinnati will have decisions to make, but it's certainly doable.

+ @Mobengals asks, "Who is the better option for more carries, Brian Leonard or Dan Herron."

Right now it's Leonard. He's experienced and versatile. In a way he was Cedric Peerman before Cedric Peerman became Cedric Peerman -- exciting with impressive special teams qualities. Plus Herron has no sample to go off of in the NFL, save for a 1.7 yard/carry average during 25 preseason carries.

When Leonard went down with an injury early in October, Cincinnati faced a similar situation with only two healthy backs. Would they sign a free agent or call up Dan Herron? At the time offensive coordinator Jay Gruden said that Herron was still developing, with a "ways to go." Nearly two months have passed and the Bengals finally called up Herron, despite inviting a collection of veteran free agent running backs.

National Football Post wrote in mid-October.

He is however a bit of a “straight line” runner who lacks the wiggle to make tacklers miss, which is vital for success in the NFL. While he has excellent hands catching the ball, unless he improves greatly in pass protection he will never be able to contribute as a receiver in the NFL. If Herron can improve his pass protection he should be able to make it in the NFL as a backup tailback and third down running back.

Two things come to mind with the Herron call-up. One, Peerman is going to be out for a little while, but not for the final four games. Two, Herron won't be much of a contributor, save for emergency situations where BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Brian Leonard are held out for any reason. Instead of leaving him on the practice squad, the Bengals wanted him on the roster to prepare.

At the same time we wouldn't be surprised if he's inactive against the Cowboys and Eagles, giving carries to Chris Pressley if a third back is required. In my opinion, and that's all this is, Herron won't be here long-term until he proves himself. Yet if given the opportunity, something happened on the running back roster and that's far more concerning.

+ Just the Tip? was at the game in San Diego and wrote:

I was very impressed with all the Bengal fans that were at the game! I also loved it when the stadium loudspeakers played “Welcome to the Jungle” right before our game winning touchdown drive. That was awesome and certainly fired up our fans and players. God bless that Bengal fan who commandeered the Charger announcer’s booth to play our song!

+ Animal_Like_Football points it out with his comment on Wallace Gilberry.

Four sacks on the year, playing only 20% of the snaps while coming to the team late. He’s been probably the most unheralded signing of the year.

Gilberry has four sacks and one forced fumble, yet what's interesting is that when Gilberry pressures, he'll sack you. He currently has four quarterback pressures and one hit on the quarterback, not called a sack.

Bouncing back to the initial topic earlier before we let you finish your coffee for another thrilling day at work, Gilberry would be a good signing. But he could (not should, would or will) be sacrificed to secure contracts for their bigger players. It's possible that by the time Cincinnati gets around to Gilberry, another team may sweep him up. And no, the Bengals rarely negotiate multiple contracts at once. I know, man. I know.

[You can catch previous mailbags here]

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