From Peter King this morning:
I think if I'm a Bengals fan, and I'm trying to analyze what they're doing in free agency, the conclusion I would come to is this: They are plumbing the depths of the lower-middle-class and seeing what, if anything, sticks. Derrick Harvey and Jamaal Anderson are two of the most disappointing highly drafted pass-rushers in recent years. Check out their stat line on profootballfocus.com. In the last two seasons, Anderson and Harvey have combined for eight sacks and 34 pressures in 1,307 combined defensive plays.
Imagine getting drafted in the first round, and barely producing, and there are the Bengals, with a nice soft landing spot. The only saving grace is the money, which is minor.
I'm not crazy about Cincy giving $3 million a year for BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who is not a make-them-miss runner and whose biggest attributes are that he catches the ball well and doesn't fumble. But he's a good, unselfish guy to have on the roster.
Read more: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/writers/peter_king/03/26/meetings/index.html#ixzz1qERDf3Qs
Hard to argue with much of that. I think the Bengals were primed to make significant upgrades in this free agency period, but instead they decided to basically stand pat. The one thing this kind of thinking (and most major national media analysis) isn't taking into account, though, is the wealth of early round draft picks we have over the next two years. We've approached this free agency with the mindset of a team that knows it is going to have an infusion of top draft talent and also face more than a few major contract extensions over the next 3-4 years. Atkins, Dunlap, Dalton, AJ, Gresham. We couldn't have seriously been in the hunt for Mario Williams - not unless we were willing to let most of those guys walk in a few years (Andy and AJ aside).
Still, as much as some of us Bengals fans are up in arms about the lack of respect the media has given the team over the past two weeks, you also can't say they really went out and strained themselves to improve the team. They made some solid moves, but at the end of the whole process going into the pre-draft period, we're basically the same team on paper we were in January, with a little less cap space and a little less age (and proven production). But the larger point is, it will be impossible to gauge this free agency until after the draft. If we don't land DeCastro or Glenn then the failure to go after Nicks or Grubbs or Mathis will look pretty pathetic. If we don't get an elite DB then the signings of Allen, Jones, and even Nelson will look a bit impotent. If we don't get a real homerun RB threat, even if it's a bit of a project player who only needs 10-15 touches a game, then the Green-Ellis signing will look like a bandaid on a bullet wound.
So let's hold off on the judgments - both on the team and on the media - for another couple weeks. We'll know a lot more soon.