Ten days into free agency and the Cincinnati Bengals have yet to sign a new player. A maddening mind is held briefly together by the white-knuckling grip of cold steel on the Brent Spence Bridge. Perhaps something greater exists. Some agents have mentioned collusion; though we're not digging into suspicions from those disappointed with lesser compensation.
Grasping a relaxed and wider perspective and Cincinnati has re-signed linebacker Rey Maualuga, defensive ends Michael Johnson (franchise), Robert Geathers and Wallace Gilberry, running back Cedric Peerman, kicker Mike Nugent, punter Kevin Huber and long snapper Clark Harris. Safety Jeromy Miles, wide receiver Andrew Hawkins and linebacker Vincent Rey are expected to return, once they sign their tenders.
Other teams around the NFL are playing the bongo drums to Cincinnati's chorus.
The Green Bay Packers re-signed linebacker Rob Francois while losing Greg Jennings, Erik Walden, Tom Crabtree, Phillip Merling and they may lose Charles Woodson, who has received luke-warm interest in Miami, San Francisco and Houston -- are the Packers waiting for the market to lower on the future Hall-of-Famer?
"I thought there would be a little more interest," Woodson said Wednesday. According to reports, the Packers are saving for eventual extensions for quarterback Aaron Rodgers and linebacker Clay Mathews. Wait. That almost sounds familiar.
The Dallas Cowboys, with laughable limitations against the cap, re-signed linebacker Ernie Sims on March 18, their first free agency move save for Anthony Spenser's franchise tag on March 4. The Houston Texans re-signed two of their own with offensive Andrew Gardner and cornerback Brice McCain; more meaningful may be the loss of linebacker Connor Barwin (Eagles) and safety Glover Quin (Lions). They also signed an aging Ed Reed to a two-year deal Wednesday night.
Though not all teams are resting within such a limited scope, such as the Carolina Panthers signing cornerback Drayton Florence, the Atlanta Falcons signing running back Steven Jackson -- they did agree to terms with Tony Gonzalez, one of their own free agents that neared retirement. Buffalo's claim to free agent domination is former Bengals linebacker Manny Lawson with three additional signings, all of whom were their own free agents.
Alright. We're impatient. Anxious. Feelings are reborn from previous free agency failures. In our twisted minds free agency solves problems, significant gaps on the roster, which doesn't allow for patience weeks into free agency where many of Cincinnati's born-again NFL players find a second-wind.
"Act like you've been there" is an axiom many of us should apply; the Bengals will find their players, applying a game-plan figured long before free agency began.
We know not everyone agrees. Some will resist, bound to disagree from the moment their web browser met the internet. We prefer that. Discourse is important for the conversation that sustains our little piece on this small blue-hued ball. March may build towards something greater for September, but it certainly doesn't offer championships. That starts in January.
+ Consider this for a moment. The Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl in January and have since lost Rey Lewis (retirement), linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Paul Kruger, cornerback Cary Williams, wide receiver Anquan Boldin (trade to San Francisco) and now safety Ed Reed, who signed a two-year deal with the Houston Texans.
Maybe winning the Super Bowl allows Baltimore to gut the defense. All I can say about that is that Andy Dalton and the Bengals offense better take advantage of it.
+ Love how the NFL just says, "Tuck Rule, you're gone". How many games and championships have been dictated by a goofy rule that shouldn't have been created in the first place. Sometimes I think the NFL is like Congress; making rules just to prove that they're doing something for someone's approval. After a few years, rescind that goofy rule to again, prove that you're doing something for someone's approval.
+ When I think about it, Marvin Lewis' assault against Pro Football Focus is laughable. Shielding a criticized player is honorable, which Lewis did for Rey Maualuga. But don't assault a football website and use Kelly Jennings as your example -- that's the best you have?
+ That being said, I'm still not buying Lewis' determination to convince everyone that Maualuga stays at MIKE. At the very least, competition will be applied. May the best linebacker win.
+ I'm alright with the Bengals losing out on safety Mike Mitchell. He really didn't do much for me. Strong run defender, decent pass rusher, but zilch in coverage. He's a depth guy that would have fought for a roster spot come August. Thinking special teams. Unless you're writing off Taylor Mays. Safety remains Cincinnati's No. 1 need heading into the 2013 NFL draft.
+ This message is addressed to George Iloka, Tony Dye and Robert Sands. There's an opportunity here.
+ Of the last four NFL drafts (excluding the 2012 NFL draft; so '08-11), the only players selected in the fifth round or later worth mentioning are wide receiver Ryan Whalen and punter Kevin Huber. Cincinnati isn't finding value in the later rounds; we'll see about Marvin Jones, Shaun Prater, Iloka and Dan Herron soon enough.
(Mojokong contributed to this report... actually he gave me the idea)