Four quarterbacks (Dalton, Johnson, McElroy, Robinson) are signed for 2014.
No quarterbacks are signed beyond 2014.
If they don’t see any of the backups as a potential QB of tomorrow, the Bengals need to either extend Dalton this spring or draft his replacement.
If they wait to re-sign Dalton, and he has a solid year, re-signing him could cost at least $15M per year (Rivers, Ben, Schaub range). That is probably too much for the Bengals to pay a QB who is not "elite", which means Dalton would likely sign elsewhere, and the Bengals would end up in dire need of a QB in 2015 and likely be forced to reach, or overpay in the draft.
Their best RB, Giovanni Bernard is signed for the next 3 seasons.
He is probably best suited in a system where he can share the load.
To that end, BJGE, Peerman, Burkhead & McCalebb are all signed on for 2014.
Going forward, only Rex Burkhead is also signed for the next 3 seasons.
The plan could be Gio / Rex going forward? Or Gio and TBD?
McCalebb could be used as a KR candidate with Tate a UFA.
So the Bengals need to decide if they want a Gio / Rex combo. If not, they need to find a dance partner for Gio.
Orson Charles is signed for 2014 and 2015.
He has not shown the ability to be a lead blocking FB.
If Hue wants a true blocking FB, they will need to add one this offseason.
And Orson could be relegated to a 3rd TE role.
A big decision needs to be made regarding keeping one of the NFL’s young, elite WR’s.
Calvin Johnson & Larry Fitzgerald top the WR contracts at about $16M per season.
Next are guys like M Wallace, D Bowe, B Marshall & V Jackson in the $11M~$12M range.
Based on this, Green is likely going to get offered $12M~$15M from somebody.
The Bengals will probably try to extend Green or Dalton, but not shell out the $ for both.
Gresham is not signed beyond 2014.
Eifert is signed thru 2016.
Gresham is good enough to get offered a TE1 role somewhere in 2015, which the Bengals likely won’t match with Eifert in house.
Anyway, TE is not a position of any need.
All of the starters are signed for 2014.
Outside of Boling they are all signed for 2015.
No offensive line starter is signed beyond 2015.
One question that defines their o-line decisions will be what to do with Whitworth:
Keep him at LT for 2 years, then get a new LT in 2016?
Keep him at LT this year, move him to LG next year (if Boling leaves) and get a new LT in 2015?
Move him to LG this year and get a new LT in 2014 (such as A Collins or via the draft)?
At some point a new LT will be necessary. The decision where they want to place Whitworth on the O-Line will determine how quickly the new LT will be required.
Another question is what to do with K Cook.
He is signed for 2 more seasons, but is not exactly a quality center.
The team doesn’t seem to think backup T Robinson is any better.
If Hawkinson or Johnson aren’t able to unseat Cook, the team either needs to find a Center from outside or suffer with Cook for 2 more years.
Geno is signed thru 2018. So half of the DT position is set indefinitely.
Thompson & Still are both signed for 2014 and 2015, as are Larry Black & Zach Minter.
Peko, and camp bodies Christo Bilukidi & Ogemdi Nwaguo are signed for 2014 only.
Outside of Geno, there are 7 DT’s signed, all vying for one spot opposite him.
With Thompson & Still signed thru 2015, and the possibility of re-signing Peko after 2014, DT doesn’t seem to be a position of much urgency.
Like Atkins, Dunlap is signed thru 2018. So half of the DE position is set indefinitely.
Gilberry is signed thru 2015 and Hunt signed thru 2016.
Between the 2 of them, they have a workable rotation opposite Dunlap.
With 3 DE’s already signed for a couple years, it’s unlikely that DE is a big draft/FA target for the Bengals this offseason – meaning M Johnson likely walks.
Geathers (remember him?) is also signed thru 2015, assuming they keep him.
Even though Larry Black is signed for 2014, they could use some backup depth here if they let Geathers go.
None of the Bengals top 5 LB’s is signed beyond 2014.
Vincent Rey is a FA.
Burfict, Maualuga, Lamur & Harrison are all signed only for 2014.
The young/unproven backups Porter, Joiner & Dimanche are all signed for a few years.
Extending Burfict should be a key priority for the team.
A decision needs to be made between re-signing guys like Ray, Rey & Lemur, or relying on the young kids like Dimanche, Porter & Joiner.
They are fine for 2014, but need to get their plan in place for the future.
In terms of contracts, the corner position is secure with Hall, Jones & Dre all signed to 2015.
But in terms of age & injury, the corner position is far from secure.
If Hall can stay healthy, and if Dre can emerge as a starter (and stay healthy himself), and if Jones can return to the Nickel, then the corner position is ably manned thru 2015. But there enough questions here that a CB is likely needed sometime during the draft.
Starters Nelson & Iloka are both signed for 2014 and 2015.
Backup Shawn Williams is signed to 2016.
Short of acquiring an "elite" safety to replace Iloka, there is probably little movement at this position other than backup depth.
Biggest Offseason Questions to be Answered...
Who do the Bengals’ see playing QB in 2015?
Who do the Bengals see rotating with Gio in the backfield in the future? Rex?
Do the Bengals want a real Fullback?
Are the Bengals willing to give AJ Green a $100M+ contract?
Where do the Bengals see Whitworth playing in 2014 (LG or LT)?
Are any of their unproven, young LB’s capable of replacing the current starters who are not signed past 2014?
Do they trust Hall’s health or Dre’s ability at CB?