2014 Offseason Preview w/ cap info

Cap Room
Since the league cap limit has not officially been published, it's difficult to say exactly how much cap room the team will have. Estimates range from $126.3M to $128M. For the purpose of this post, we'll assume the higher number. The Bengals should have approx. $8.2M in carryover cap room from 2013 to apply to their 2014 cap. In previous years ownership has let some of those cap dollars expire but that wasn't the case last year and I doubt it will be the case this year. The team is solid and in a position to compete for a title. Therefore expect the team cap limit to be $136.2M. As of 1/17, the team has a Top 51 cap total of $110.7M (including $1.0M in dead money) which equates to $25.5M in cap room. That would give them the 8th most cap room in the NFL before any cuts are made.

The only playoff teams with more cap room than the Bengals are the Colts and Packers, however they have 9 and 6 starters respectively that will be UFA's. So expect their usable cap room to end up lower than what the Bengals have to work with.

Unrestricted Free Agents
Michael Johnson and Anthony Collins are the most significant free agents. Johnson is unlikely to resign with the Bengals given how much the team has already invested in the defensive line. Collins could resign but likely only if he is unable to get a starting gig somewhere else. Plus given how inactive the team will likely be in free agency, they may choose to let these guys walk in exchange for high comp picks in 2015. Other UFA's include WR Brandon Tate, OG Mike Pollack, TE Alex Smith, S Chris Crocker, S Taylor Mays, LB Michael Boley, CB Brandon Ghee, OT Dennis Roland and P Zoltan Mesko. If any of these players come back it will be for depth and at a salary of $1M or less.

Restricted Free Agents
Andrew Hawkins, Vinny Rey and cult hero Dane Sanzenbacher are scheduled to be restricted free agents. All were undrafted coming in to the NFL so a low tender of $1.389M will only give the team first right of refusal. That should be good enough to keep Rey and Sanzenbacher around, although I would expect Hawkins to get a 2nd round tender of $2.125M. These additions would bring the cap room down to $22.1M.

The most likely candidates for contract extensions are A.J. Green and Vontaze Burfict. Green is scheduled to make $3.060M in base salary for 2014 and has a team option worth the average of the Top 10 at his position (currently $14.2M) for 2015. Certainly they would prefer to secure him to a long-term contract but it's hard to read the tea leaves on timing here. Burfict has much less leverage but his performance merits an increase. Numbers can vary here quite a bit, so we won't attempt to make any predictions (yet). Andy Dalton is also eligible but as has been debated exhaustively at and elsewhere on the interweb, it is difficult to determine Dalton's market value. That said, if he plays out his contract someone is going to hand him a lot of money, so the Bengals may feel committed enough to him that they reach an agreement. Additional players will be entering their contract year in 2014 (Gresham, Peko, Maualuga, BJGE, Boling and more) but there is little reason to expect the team to accelerate contract talks here. I expect a sizeable portion of the cap room to be used for extensions for Green, Burfict and possibly Dalton.

The team has its normal complement of seven picks plus very likely two late-round (7th) comp picks. The cap impact of these picks will be relatively minimal so this group will be debated more on who to pick rather than their cap values.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Cincy Jungle's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Cincy Jungle's writers or editors.

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