At a time of year where most teams and their fans are excited at the prospect of vastly improving their squad, it's also the time of year where reminders of past free-agency failure are passed around. Salary cap casualties occur in the weeks leading up to the NFL's version of March Madness and there are quite a few big names that become available for the signing.
Chris Wesseling of NFL.com recently came up with a list of potential cuts coming down the pike for the teams in the AFC. Wesseling presents the candidates in three categories, basically deeming them relative certainties, candidates for restructuring their contracts, potential surprises and "others". Since there are a number of names to sift through on the list, we're going to present them to you in different groups that provides a Bengals slant.
THE BENGALS KNEW WHAT THEY WERE DOING (FORMER BENGALS LOOKING FOR JOBS):
Carson Palmer: Just two short seasons after being shipped to the Oakland Raiders in one of the most lucrative trades in Bengals history, the silver and black might be discussing the prospect of releasing Palmer. Since landing in the bay area, Palmer has restructured his contract once and now the salary cap-strapped Raiders might be looking to ride themselves of Palmer's $13 million contract for 2013.
Ryan Fitzpatrick: Since the disaster that was the 2008 season, Fitzpatrick found himself a good home in Buffalo with the Bills. Ol' "crazy legs Fitz" has put up some huge numbers up north--both positive and negative. He's due around $7.25 million this season and, as Wesseling puts it, "it will cost the Bills more to keep him than release him".
Aaron Ross: Remember when the Bengals courted Ross last offseason? Instead of opting for a contender, Ross signed a lucrative contract with the Jaguars and had a minimal impact. Wesseling has him in his "others" category.
Kevin Walter: After the Texans saw something in Walter after a 2005 season where he flashed, he signed two contracts with Houston. He had some solid seasons with the club before his first Texans contract expired, making him a relatively hot commodity going into the 2010 season. The Bengals expressed interest, but Walter re-signed with the Texans. The last two seasons have been two of Walter's least productive with Houston and he could be on his way out.
POTENTIAL BENGALS FREE AGENT TARGETS ON THE LIST:
Knowshon Moreno: The Broncos' embattled running back might be shown the door before he sees the end of his rookie contract. Moreno's problems on and off of the field might push him out the door, even though he came on strong in 2012. The Bengals are in desperation at the running back position and with their penchant for grabbing fizzled out first rounders, Moreno could be looked at to be brought in for camp competition if he's released.
Darrius Heyward-Bey: The former top-ten pick could be an almost certainty to be released (their starting quarterback and top wide receiver released at the same time? Yikes.) because doing so would save the Raiders almost $5.5 million, per Wesseling's calculations. The Bengals are looking to solidify their No.2 wide receiver position and having Heyward-Bey's speed could be intriguing. He's only 25 years old and is coming off of two decent seasons after two flop-like seasons.
Laurent Robinson: For many of the same reasons I listed above with Heyward-Bey, Robinson could be a veteran pickup at the receiver position. After a big year with the Cowboys in 2011, Robinson battled injuries and poor quarterback play in 2012. He signed a big contract with the Jaguars last offseason and could be shown the door because of the new ownership and the salary cap issues of the club.
CURRENT BENGALS ON THE BUBBLE:
Travelle Wharton: The Bengals received some good play from Clint Boling after Wharton went down with a season-ending knee injury in the first preseason game. Wharton is set to receive a relatively big payday in 2013, especially if he's going to be a backup, so we're not sure if the Bengals are willing to foot the bill. Then again, the Bengals have plenty of salary cap space and can afford him if they want to keep him around.
Jason Allen: Cutting Allen wouldn't necessarily save the Bengals a bunch of money to put into the free agent foray, but it would rid them of dead weight. Allen gave the Bengals nothing last season after being one of their big pickups. If they could put whatever money they would save by cutting Allen into a potentially solid free agent, be it an outside one or one of their own, they would be wise to do it.
Jamaal Anderson: This one might be a little bit of a reach by Wesseling, but if the Bengals end up retaining Michael Johnson and/or Robert Geathers, they might not have room for Anderson who played two games for Cincinnati last year. The team could also be looking at the draft for some talent, so it could become crowded for Anderson to stick.