I just don't agree with this "build only through the draft" approach... Because the draft is as much, if not more, of a crap shoot or fool’s gold as Free Agency is. What has failed in the past with Coles and Bryant isn’t very comparable to the approach I’m talking about and think every team should take. I don’t think it’s fair to group T.O. in with the other two because he was the only one coming off a productive year and he came at a somewhat cheap price. He also come in here and lead the team in receiving, and while that may not have been a great year for the team. T.O. was a bright spot for a lot of games. Coles and Bryant were well past their prime, and we also shelled out big money to get them, a lot more than we did for T.O. We actually gave them the same contract we were offering Housh to stay and almost the same as he got to be the go to guy in Seattle. Funny neither of Coles or Bryant we’re coming off of pro bowl seasons like Housh was when he left.
As I’ve said before, I think the team should have a litmus test when it comes to Free Agent signings, especially when shelling out big money like they did with Coles and Bryant.
1.) They have to be coming off a productive year and proven to be somewhat consistent in their NFL careers. This avoids a one hit wonder signing that doesn’t work out well for the team (See: Dallas, Miles Austin)
2.) They have to be within what we need and are willing to pay to get (could be a lot of money, could be a little, situations vary year to year)
3.) They can’t be coming off any kind of major injury and if they have had a major injury in their career, they would have to have had a good season back to full health with their prior team.
These three basic questions would have stopped us from signing Coles or Bryant which were mistakes, and T.O. would’ve still be in stripes because in my opinion he’s the only one that pasts this test at the time of us signing him, and the only one that proved to worth the value the team paid to get him.
When you have a chance to go after guys that are coming off a productive year and have been consistent throughout their careers in the NFL along with the price being right, I think it's stupid of a GM not to do so. I understand that Pittsburgh has a build through the draft system that has worked well for them, the problem with that is they sometimes have to overvalue and pay too much to keep their own, which the Bengals have did as well to bring back Michael Johnson, in what looks like to be a very weak market for Defensive ends. Had the Bengals not franchised Johnson, and he walked he could have been replaced easily with Dumervil, a possible upgrade for a lot less money.
Building through the draft, and keeping your own guys also goes against how this team really operates. It sounds good, but it just hasn’t been how they have done it in the past. The Bengals have proven that they don’t value their own as much as other teams do, letting key guys go time and time again, and then scrambling in panic to replace them. While it may not work all the time, other teams use a good medium when it comes to free agency. Baltimore and New England have proven in the past, they're not afraid to go after a Free Agent if they think he can be an upgrade to their team and doesn't bring along a huge risk. They are two of the most consistent teams of the last decade. More recently teams like Atlanta, San Francisco and Denver have proven that a good mix of Free Agency and the draft can make you a powerhouse in the NFL.
I just can’t for the life of me, figure out why with as much money as this team has to spend, why the last two years the team hasn’t went after ONE guy in free agency, that could come in immediately to start, and give them the ability to truly pick the "best player available" when it’s their pick in the draft. It shows an uncommitted front office still exists at Paul Brown Stadium. It just doesn’t seem to be about winning the Super Bowl. It seems they are complacent with just barely being competitive enough to make the playoffs and will do nothing to raise the eyebrows of the people whom are paying their bills for them, the fans and people of Cincinnati.
The way Marvin sounds in his most recent interview is that he has all but shunned the idea of signing Free Agents for any other reason than to create depth. He was bashing Randy Moss and Chad Johnson, while talking up Sanu as the next generation. I’m glad he has so much confidence in Sanu, it makes me excited for the future and excited to see him play. However completely waving free agency off all together, when you have more to spend then the rest of the NFL, because you think you’re drafting skills are going to be better than the rest of the league, year in and year out, is a dangerous idea. It coincidentally fits the "Bengals are cheap asses" logo the media and fans alike have placed on the franchise, and shows a contradiction to their past behavior with signing their own top tier guys back to the team when they want top tier contracts.
I love the build within philosophy, and get excited to watch our young guys develop in to stars in front of my eyes. I also think when you have the space to do it, you should go out and spend a little coin to fill areas you need to fill, so that you have an opportunity in the draft to get the next "star", without trying to find the next "starter’ at the same time. It shows the players and the city, you’re committed to the team getting better. There is nothing wrong with having a training camp filled with young prospects, competing with proven vets to maximize the competition and over all talent on the team.
Having more cap space than the 31 other teams in the NFL, and doing absolutely NOTHING with it to please the fans, and show the players you’re committed to doing better. Makes me feel Mike Brown is still as arrogant as ever and is just not committed to building a Championship atmosphere in Cincinnati. For a team that has as much turmoil between them and their community and fans. I also feel it’s just unacceptable considering the opportunity we now have to take over our consistently tough division for a sustained amount of time. This isn't about blowing up the bank and spending it all before we resign Dalton, Green, Dunlap, Atkins, Gresham.. All of them... It's about going out and getting ONE or TWO guys that can help out this team to show everyone you have some type of commitment to success, because you have the money to do it.