It's no secret that the Bengals are in need of a guard and it's also no secret that there are a couple of really good guards that could make their way to free agency starting on March 13. One of those guards is Carl Nicks of the New Orleans Saints. Nicks is largely considered the best guard that could hit free agency and it has been thought that his chances of moving to another team could be fairly high considering that the team's most important free agent to re-sign is Drew Brees.
There has been a lot of talk about the Bengals, due to the large amount of money that they have to spend, could make a move for Nicks. However, according to Pro Football Talk's Gregg Rosenthal, Nicks could receive the franchise tag from the Saints if a deal with Brees is struck in time.
If the deal comes in time for the Saints to avoid using the tag on Brees, the Saints will have the flexibility to retain either guard Carl Nicks or wide receiver Marques Colston with the one-year tag.
Jason La Canfora of NFL Network reports that Nicks is first in line. That decision makes sense because Nicks is a first team All Pro guard and Colston isn't quite that elite a wide receiver.
If the team can get Brees signed to a long-term deal before the period ends in which a team can use their franchise tag, they'll likely keep Nicks around. However, if that doesn't happen, the Saints will use their tag on Brees and they may not be able to keep Nicks around.
Now whether or not he'll end up as a Cincinnati Bengal is a whole other story. Nicks will cost quite a bit of money and even though the Bengals have money to spend, they may not be willing to part with it. Also, keep in mind that if the Saints do keep Nicks and Brees, that likely means that Marques Colston is as good as gone. The Bengals do need a wide receiver and Colston has shown us that he can be a solid No. 1 guy and a great No. 2.
Teams are able to apply the franchise tag to a player until March 5 and free agency doesn't open until March 13, so we'll have a good idea of who is going to be on the market and who won't before free agency actually opens.