+ There have been multiple reports with projected salary cap numbers this year. ESPN's John Clayton initially reported that the Cincinnati Bengals have a projected $60 million under the cap, including the $15 million set aside from last year, preparing for a possible Carson Palmer return which would caused havoc on Cincinnati's salary cap if they decided to close the gap on the league-mandated ceiling. This was after ESPN's AFC North blog and the Sun-Sentinel claimed that Cincinnati had only (yea, only) $44 million under the cap. Though we're sure he's using Clayton's number, ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter also used the same $60 million number.
This gives the Bengals options for free agency, which is set to launch on March 13. They could steal a free agent or two out of New Orleans, offering players at positions that the Cincinnati Bengals must address.
Cincinnati invited cornerback Stanford Routt to Cincinnati, as part of the cornerback's free agency tour which included stops in Kansas City and Buffalo. That visit took place on Friday. There are other options that the Bengals could examine in regards to free agent cornerbacks, such as Kansas City's Brandon Carr, Atlanta's Brent Grimes, Tennessee's Cortland Finnegan or perhaps one of the more impressive free agent cornerbacks in San Francisco's Carlos Rogers -- which makes sense because we love exchanging players with San Francisco.
Other teams will eventually release some of their veterans due to their respective salary cap issues. Most of these guys are still good, though the money they were paid with their respective team wasn't a worthy investment from their perspective. Generally speaking this adds to the overall free agency pool, usually a week before the start of the regular season, but they're there for the team to plunder. But there are many instances in which teams refuse to pay huge roster bonuses, thus adding that playing into the free agency poll a week before the new league year (March 13).
Yes. We still expect the team to continuously rebuild through the NFL Draft. But with so much money available against the cap, the Bengals have these options to vastly improve the talent across the board while continuing to establish core foundation pieces through the draft.