How quickly do things change?
During the opening month into free agency last year (March '12 for clarification), the Cincinnati Bengals had agreed to terms with five free agents; running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis, offensive guard Travelle Wharton, cornerback Jason Allen, and defensive ends Jamaal Anderson and Derrick Harvey. Within 16 months, Wharton and Anderson suffered season-ending injuries, Allen was released with congestion at his position and Harvey was released within a week of last year's training camp. Save for Green-Ellis (who had a good season), everyone has since been released.
By our count, the Bengals paid Wharton, Allen, Anderson, and Harvey a total of $10.585 million. How did we come up with that figure?
|Travelle Wharton||$825,000||$1.5 Million||$1.5 Million ('12)||$200,000 ('12)||$4.025 Million|
|Jamaal Anderson||$1.6 Million||$500,000||$200,000 ('12)||$2.3 Million|
|Jason Allen||$1.8 Million||$1 Million||$1.2 Million ('12)||$200,000 ('12)||$4.2 Million|
|$4.225 Million||$3.06 Million||$2.7 Million||$600,000||$10.585 Million|
Admittedly, those numbers may have slight discrepancies. We don't have access to detailed contractual breakdowns or cash distributed as a result of unknown bonuses -- such as possible workout bonuses, or reporting bonuses (though we doubt those exist). The greater presentation here is a rough translation of how much money the Bengals spent on those four players last year.
You take risks in free agency and the Bengals took several. Four of those five acquisitions from March '12 predictably crashed. While Wharton's injury was compounded by the rise of Clint Boling, Anderson and Harvey were former first-round busts that arrived and departed the Queen City without any changes in those labels. Jason Allen had durability issues that he couldn't overcome, but Cincinnati was well-aware of possible depth issues that they quickly signed Terence Newman several weeks later, then drafted Dre Kirkpatrick in the first round.
In fairness to the Bengals, there was a lot of unpredictable fluidity involved here. No one could have predicted Wharton's injury and it's not like Clint Boling installed much confidence during his rookie season. Allen was signed before Newman, Kirkpatrick, and Shaun Prater joined the Bengals through free agency and the NFL draft. Anderson was a luxury pick to improve the team's depth. However, like Wharton, the prediction machine that could have informed Cincinnati about possible injury-related issues, was broken. We can only conclude that the Harvey signing was the result of an acid trip. But that wasn't a costly venture.