The Cincinnati Bengals only have two restricted free agents according to a recent list provided by the NFL Player's Association, safety Jeromy Miles and tight end Richard Quinn.
The league defines a Restricted Free Agent as a player who has accumulated three years of NFL experience and his contract has expired. A player earns an accrued year of NFL experience by spending "six or more regular-season games on a club's active/inactive [roster], reserved/injured [IR] or reserve/physically unable to perform [PUP]."
Because three-year rookie contracts are rare, last year's Collective Bargaining Agreement eliminated new three-year rookie contracts entirely. The future of RFAs, which has largely been a historical trend, will be made entirely from college free agents and players who have been released from their rookie deals. This year, the league averages three RFAs per team.
Going by the NFL rules as we know them, running back Cedric Peerman should be an RFA too, because he has accumulated three years of experience and is a free agent this year. Peerman was drafted in 2009 by the Baltimore Ravens, but he was released that year and didn't earn an accrued year of experience in 2009. His three years of experience should make him an RFA, but who knows?
In any case, Restricted Free Agents are retained by their former team almost every time. This fact exists because teams can match any offer to their RFAs under "first right of refusal". If the Bengals chose not to match another team's offer on, say, Jeromy Miles, then the Bengals would be due a draft pick from the team that signed Miles. This creates a double-hurdle for teams to snatch RFAs away - they must offer a relatively big contract to the player and give a draft pick away to the team they snatched him from. So Jeromy Miles and Richard Quinn (and Cedric Peerman hopefully) will all be on the team again next year, in all likelihood.
Miles is part of the "everybody else" classification of the Bengals safeties - as in, it's Reggie Nelson and everybody else. Nelson has emerged as a solid, playmaking starter, while the Bengals have not found a long term counterpart at the other safety spot. Jeromy Miles, Taylor Mays, Nate Clements all saw time at the second safety spot early in the 2012 season, until the stabilizing presence of the veteran Chris Crocker solved the problem in the short term. Miles was on the field for about half of the defensive snaps in the first two games, but he allowed a big catch in each game, and it appeared he was a bit too mistake prone for Mike Zimmer's defense. The team also has fifth-rounders George Iloka and Robert Sands in the mix, as well as an undrafted player from last year, Tony Dye. Miles has more game experience than these three though, and he actually leads the team in total special teams tackles over the past two years. Miles will be brought back for his aggressiveness, versatility, and potential.
Richard Quinn is a complete mystery man. He was signed just before the start of the 2012 regular season, when the tight end position seemed already full. Gresham was the starter, Orson Charles had just been drafted, and Donald Lee was the returning veteran backup. But, within a month, Lee was released. For the rest of the season, Quinn was the team's third-string tight end. But the mystery man didn't play a snap, and was gameday inactive for fifteen of sixteen games this season. Surprisingly, he was a second-round pick by the Denver Broncos back in 2009. At 6'4" and 264 pounds, he certainly has the size of an NFL tight end. It might not seem like much, but the fact that Quinn was on the gameday roster almost every game last year says a lot about what the Bengals think of him. They trust him as a backup tight end.
In looking at the rest of the league's RFAs, a few recognizable names stand out. The tight end pair in Balitmore, Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson, or the emerging cornerback Sam Shields of the Packers, or even one of the best receivers in the league - Victor Cruz. But, of course these players will certainly be re-signed by their former clubs. They are cornerstones of their team's foundation now, and impossible to pry away.
Two running backs, though, stood out as legitimate possibilities to depart their team. The Saints' Chris Ivory and the Buccaneers' LeGarette Blount. Ivory has always been a rumored trade target for many teams, thanks to his amazing talent and the incredibly stacked roster of Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas, and Mark Ingram in front of him. Ivory only played 67 snaps this year, but one of those snaps was this incredible run [video]. He's doing no good riding the bench with the Saints. LeGarrette Blount, on the other hand, went from a former breakout star in 2010, to being completely replaced by the rookie Doug Martin in 2012. Blount isn't even second-string on the Buccaneers anymore, a spot now held by D.J. Ware. Both Blount and Ivory have talent, and the Bengals don't have much talent in the backfield with only BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Boom Herron on the roster, while Cedric Peerman, Brian Leonard, and Bernard Scott are all free agents.
Former Bengal wide receiver Jordan Shipley also makes an appearance on the list. Shipley is currently with the Jacksonville Jaguars, after being released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the middle of the season. While on the Jaguars, Shipley made 22 catches for 220 yards and a touchdown over the last five games of the 2012 season, all as a slot receiver. He'll probably be retained by Jacksonville though. Fortunately, the Bengals have four players who can work the slot well- A.J. Green, Andrew Hawkins, Mohamed Sanu, and Ryan Whalen.