+ When the Bengals confidently claimed that they intended to re-sign their own free agents, no one expected Reggie Nelson to be on the only unrestricted free agent to return through the first week of free agency, watching as contributing role players like Jonathan Fanene, Frostee Rucker, Andre Caldwell, Nate Livings and Mike McGlynn leave town for better-paying gigs (at least we assume compared to what the Bengals were offering).
Momentum took a noticeable shift on Thursday after a reported agreement was reached between cornerback Adam Jones and the Bengals. Additionally Geoff Hobson wrote that about strong interest to bring back defensive tackle Pat Sims and offensive tackle Anthony Collins, solidifying a depth chart that's already thin on both sides of the line.
As of this posting, the Bengals have lost five unrestricted free agents and re-signed two, giving them a net-loss of three players during free agency. Granted Nate Livings and Mike McGlynn aren't heavy losses and perhaps acquisitions like guard Travelle Wharton, cornerback Jason Allen and running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis are actual upgrades within their respective positions -- assuming that Allen is an upgrade over Kelly Jennings, who he's replacing.
That being said, we're still not ready to grade Cincinnati's free agency yet. We've reached the point in which teams find players to fill gaps on their roster, though largely backup players and special teamers, an area the team will also address with undrafted free agents as well. But at the very worst we can say that this free agency period so far has been a push, not great, but they're not just sitting on their hands.
Though admittedly if the team's intension was to sign players to fill up Paul Brown Stadium, then they've failed in that respect. Yet hopefully their intension remains roster building, keeping the chemistry strong while building off the team's foundation through the NFL draft for sustained success, and not purchasing a team like so many have in the past and failed miserably doing so.
There have been areas that they failed to address, sure, such as wide receiver and the defensive line. And due to our impatience, it's an irritant. But are these major issues?
There are hundreds of college prospects preparing for next month's NFL draft and perhaps we're underestimating the team's confidence (and plans) to bring Armon Binns into the starting lineup opposite A.J. Green. We can't presume their plans and how that interacts with free agency and general player acquisition.
Should we get upset for not acquiring a free agent wide receiver when Binns unexpectedly takes the promotion in stride, becoming a heavy contributor? Maybe the team goes with another first-round draft pick at wide receiver and that player overcomes a significant learning curve, becoming a starter early in the season whereas normal rookie wide receivers takes time to adjust and integrate into the NFL.
Too much remains before such judgments can be rendered from our perspective, establishing a day-at-a-time mentality as fans and balanced views as writers. After all our self-promoted General Manager titles needs to be earned somehow.