John Harbaugh's Free Agency Philosophy Differs From Bengals

Rob Carr

Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh also had some eye-opening comments about free agency at the breakfast of the NFL's annual meeting. They might seem to run the opposite of what we're seeing from the Bengals this year.

There are a number of cliches associated with keeping the status quo. Either personally or professionally, the adages that talk about keeping things the same usually point to those things getting stale and/or not progressing. Count Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh as one who believes in that sentiment.

At the coaches breakfast at the NFL's annual meeting, Harbaugh was one of many who provided a number of good sound bytes for fans. One such topic he touched on was the status of his team after their salary cap issues forced the team to allow talented players to leave. However, Harbaugh believes that the Ravens are better for their situation and the roster turnover, saying: "The biggest mistake you can make is trying to hold a team together. It's impossible."

Another very telling follow-up comment by Harbaugh (per CSNBaltimore) went like this: "If you try to stay the same, you end up getting worse". Interesting. Now, it's entirely possible that this is just Harbaugh towing the company line and giving a "PC answer" about his team losing some of it's big players. He can't be happy that he is tasked with finding starters at wide receiver, middle and outside linebacker, as well as the possibility of safety.

Still, this mantra of changing things up holds weight and should send a shudder down the spine of Bengals fans. The entire offseason has been about keeping their own players and not bringing in outside talent, which is, in essence, keeping the status quo. The players they are mostly focusing on to bring back this offseason are those that have either already entered their primes and/or are considered past them. That's not to say that other important youngsters are in the mix for extensions over the next couple of years, but the primary focus are their own who aren't under contract. So, the question has to be asked: are the Bengals getting better with their free agency strategy?

Harbaugh would seem to say no, based on his comments on Tuesday, and while some Bengals fans might scoff at what Harbaugh and the Ravens think on the subject, keep in mind that they're the reigning Super Bowl champs and Harbaugh has been to the playoffs every year that he has coached in Baltimore. Throw in a widely-respected General Manager in Ozzie Newsome, and though they didn't comment directly on the Bengals' strategy, one should give credibility on their opinions on this idea.

(Editor's Note: A tip of the cap to Andre Perrotta for contributing to this article.)

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