The new league year starts in less than a week as free agency officially opens on March 13. Heading into the offseason, analysts started to rank the potential free agents and in most lists, there was a handful of Cincinnati Bengals players. CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco recently listed his top-30 free agents and on that list, there was only one Bengals player, free safety Reggie Nelson, who comes in at No. 29.
He has rejuvenated his career with the Bengals. In a league where there is a shortage of safeties, he will get a decent deal. He can cover and has improved his tackling.
Nelson may not be the best safety in the NFL but he did play well in 2011. He was by far the team's best safety and it has surprised many, including myself, that the team hasn't seemed to seriously pursue re-signing him, at least according to the reports that we've heard. Some also feel that the team should have used the franchise tag on him instead of kicker Mike Nugent.
The Bengals have neglected the safety position for a long time and while Chris Crocker has had his moments, he has slowly declined. The Bengals need to shore up the secondary badly by replacing Johnathan Joseph at cornerback with somebody who will be there for more than a season or two and they need to find a solution at the safety positions as well. Re-signing Nelson would keep a solid player at one of the two safety positions and wouldn't force the Bengals to find two new safeties in the draft or overspend on one in free agency.
Hopefully a deal is announced before Nelson is able to test the market, which could drive up his price or put him on a new team. Nelson was No. 43 in Prisco's top-50 free agents, which was published in early February, and the fact that he has moved up to No. 29 in less than a month is a sign that the Bengals shouldn't want him to get away.