A lot has been said about the possibility of the Bengals picking up a top free agent offensive guard because of their desperate need to upgrade from the 2011 roster of Mike McGlynn and Nate Livings. One of the names that Bengals fans have been obsessing over is New Orleans Saints free agent Carl Nicks.In a recent interview with New Orleans' WWL-TV, Nicks said that he expects to hit free agency on March 13, and, if he does, he would likely become one of the highest paid interior linemen in the NFL. Regarding his situation, Nicks stated,
"In my mind, I pretty much am gone, to be honest. They’re gonna do something in the next four days that they haven’t done in the last four weeks?" said Nicks, referring to the lack of a contract proposal from the Saints. "I really don’t think so."
When you are a sought after free agent who wants to stay on the same team and the other high-profile free agent on your team is Drew Brees, and your team only has $18-20 million in cap space, you are probably not going to get the deal you want. Nicks has stated that he wants as much, or more, money as teammate Jahri Evans ($8 million per year) and in a year when the Saints do not have a lot of cap space (the Saints just restructured Evans' contract to create more room so they can sign Brees), Nicks is going to have to find a different team if he wants to make that much money.
Then Bengals have about $60 million to use between free agency and the draft, and using roughly one sixth of that cap space for a Pro-Bowl player who could bring the Bengals offense to the next level seems as though it would be an easy decision. There are still a lot of variables that go into the decision to sign a player like Nicks to a long-term deal, like if there are any other players available that would give the Bengals the production they need on the offensive line but might be cheaper or even if they are able to draft a reliable guard (DeCastro, Glenn, or Brandon Brooks).
Free agency starts March 13 (three days away!!!) and the draft is April 26-28; we will have to wait and see what the Bengals do to fill their roster needs, but signing Nicks would be a good starting point for placing the pieces around Dalton and Green and giving them the opportunities they deserve to play well and, above all, win.