Yesterday Cincy Jungle's Josh Kirkendall reported that the Bengals had the highest amount of available cap space in the NFL with $27.7 million dollars available. Reports coming from profootballtalk.com and the Twitter account of Joe Reedy do nothing to negate the Bengals status as no. 1 in highest cap space, but the number has changed slightly.
The latest number is $7 million less than what was reported yesterday and the only thing that has changed is the signing of SLB Manny Lawson. It is highly doubtful, though not impossible, that the Lawson re-signed with the Bengals for $7 million per year but, even if he did, they would still have plenty of money to sign whatever free agent they wanted. Even if you factor out the $7-8 million they would spend on their draft picks, they would still have the highest cap number in the NFL.
Even though the Bengals have the highest cap number in the entire NFL, and some fans are a bit crabby because their team has not spent a lot of money and signed any big name clients for a lot more money than they deserve, the Bengals still have managed to get an off-season grade of "solid B" by ESPN blogger Jamison Hensley. Not to mention, this is far better than the grades received by the Browns (C), Ravens (D), and Steelers (D), whose hands are all tied because of their lack of cap space.
Even though the Bengals aren't overpaying for players, they are creating depth on their roster by signing second-tier players and are saving cap space to re-sign key players whose contracts are up after the 2012 season (Mike Nugent and Kevin Huber as two prime examples). If their off-season signings end up playing to their full potential in 2012, it could be a long season for many Bengals fans....and by that, I mean that it will be lengthy, not 1990's era "long." And if they don't, well, at least they didn't cost as much as Laverneus Coles or Antonio Bryant.