Why is it that other teams don't have these issues?
There's two prevailing thoughts. As much as the name James Harrison may warm the hearts of Grinch-y Bengals fans to allow one non-profanity-laced smile for Mike Brown, there are arguments against the signing being applied by the "less filling" supporters that believe building through the draft (and by extension saving money to keep your best players) remains preferable.
Consider the reports. Ian Rapoport was the first to tweet that talks were not looking good. Adam Schefter followed up that numbers during negotiations did not look like they could work. Joe Reedy doubted an agreement would happen Tuesday, as did Geoff Hobson. In a way Tuesday really sucked for free agency enthusiasts.
We know that the issue is money. We know that Harrison wouldn't accept $4.5 million during a proposed reduction in base salary to help Pittsburgh swim underneath the 2013 salary cap. Why would he accept less in Cincinnati? Why would Cincinnati pay for anything within that ritzy neighborhood? Where are the other NFL teams displaying public interest?
Here's where the concern rests with the simplest of perspectives. You're asking for a more Manny Lawson, playing SAM linebacker, while paying Harrison upwards to 3-4 times the asking price. Yes. Harrison is greater than Lawson. Not our point. Based on the team's usage of SAM linebackers recently, the amount of time on the field could arguably be the same. At least if we're to believe that Harrison wants something in the neighborhood of what he was expecting in Pittsburgh prior to his release. And if we're to believe that the Bengals are steadfast in their support for Rey Maualuga.
Former player and current team analyst John Thornton questions his age and recent injury history. Though most call it a good fit in regards to a player playing for a team, some aren't as enthusiastic to support Harrison's fit in a 4-3 base defense.
The truth to the propose question is that only one other team had shown significant interest in Harrison. Yet his scheduled visit was cancelled after the Baltimore Ravens signed Elvis Dumervil. Cincinnati is the driver's seat while Harrison is off in the desert capturing rattlesnakes (read his twitter).
This is just like Andre Smith's negotiations.
Indications optimistically suggest that both sides still want to get a deal done, but the numbers are just off -- not unlike the stalled Andre Smith negotiations. Cincinnati clearly has an advantage in both situations without a challenged response from another team. You can get more elsewhere? Impress me.
In other words, the Bengals can submit "low ball" offers without interference from another team -- because there are no teams challenging Cincinnati's offers (see the point we're making). It's a waiting game. Until another team slaps a better offer on the table for either (or both players), the Bengals are showing the only offer either player is seeing right now. But at the rate things are progressing, would it be all that surprising if neither player is resolved until after the 2013 NFL draft?
Bengals just don't want to pay anyone.
There might be a truth there from a certain point of view. Though the frugal nature of magnetizing cash to body doesn't promote wild idealism for spending on a soon-to-be 35-year old that's failed to play a full 16-game season since 2010. When it comes to the opening weeks of free agency where contracts are at their most bloated, Mike Brown is financially conscientious.
He's also made questionable signings while flaunting his Robin Hood costume. Hell, let's call it reckless spending.
Carson Palmer (at the end of the 2005 regular season), Willie Anderson and Levi Jones signed long-term deals during the 2006 offseason for a combined $194.5 million, including Carson Palmer's ten-year deal. Within two years of that, the Bengals added another $63.2 million with a Robert Geathers extension in 2007 and free agent signing Antwan Odom a year after that. In 2009 the team signed Antonio Bryant and Terrell Owens to $30 million -- and Owens was the one guy identified as being underpaid.
This is not the identification of someone that's frugal with his money.
This is just insanity.
And while pounding fist to head (I watched Spartacus recently), you just take the inevitability and move on. Questionable overspending, paranoia at spending at all, it's all in the cupcake of life. April, not March, is when Bengals fans expect new additions; though most of their effort this year has remained largely internal.
Say what you will. Mike Brown won't overspend, but he hasn't spent wisely either -- it's the basis for many fans resisting high profile free agents in their prime. Brown applies financial logic into his equations (which isn't agreeable with fans) and the intelligence in his signings with short-term forecasting that applies for the here and now with a long-term vision beyond this year...
(Dude, Rey Maualuga)
+ Joe Reedy with the Cincinnati Enquirer on thoughts about James Harrison snag and possible re-emergence of Karlos Dansby:
Dansby has played all three linebacker spots in a 4-3, at 31 is younger than Harrison and is coming off a career year. In other words, based on production, he would be worth more than Harrison. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported recently that Harrison turned down a 30 percent pay cut from the Steelers, which would have dropped his salary to around $4.5 million this season. The highest I can see the Bengals going is $3.5 million. With Dansby and Harrison it also comes down to this -- what is worth more? Production and familiarity in a 4-3 defense or swagger and intensity?
+ Recently signed tight end Alex Smith on signing with the Bengals during a conference call with local beat writers:
"Honestly, I had thought about that before even signing with Cincinnati. I thought the division was definitely leaning in Cincinnati's favor based on some of the roster moves that teams were doing. Cleveland is going through another transition with a new coach (and) just seeing the way players were exiting out of Pittsburgh and Baltimore, I thought the way Cincinnati was able to keep the nucleus…They already had a nice, young talented roster, so I think being able to build off of that, you've already seen success and I expect them to run away and be even better now. Especially with the shape of the rest of the division."
Let's forgo the idea of necessitating a depth chart when factoring Smith with Orson Charles, a second-year tight end selected in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL draft. We could see the Bengals putting Smith on the field during running downs with Charles playing a role in the passing game.
And if you're concerned about trends giving away plays, Jay Gruden isn't that tricky, despite Mohamed Sanu's touchdown pass against Washington. When Chris Pressley was on the field, the Bengals ran the football 70.6 percent of the time. Cincinnati doesn't trick you. They just try to beat you.