Expect the expected during the 2014 Bengals offseason

USA TODAY Sports

Every once in awhile, it's important to take a deep breath and remember how this team operates during free agency.

This is an odd way to begin this article, but I have to point this out: I love the show True Detective on HBO. When I first started watching it, I felt it was a conventional detective drama starring two heavyweight Hollywood stars in Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. The more I progressed through the show, the more I became consumed with the deeper meanings behind every bit of dialogue. I started reading interviews with creator Nic Pizzolato. I began scouring message boards for theories, and those theories took me deeper and deeper into what I can only describe as, well, ridiculous. However, I ate all of it up.

It's fitting that True Detective is raiding my mind every Sunday. What once was a day for binging on NFL action, Sunday has become a barren wasteland of infomercials and three consecutive airings of The Shawshank Redemption on the same channel. True Detective embraced me in the record-breaking brutal months of winter in Ohio. Of course, football is still on my mind. Of course, the NFL Combine recently provided a window into the 2014 NFL season. And, of course, free agency speculation is beginning to swell throughout sports media.

Like True Detective, there's the conventional, traditional expectation we have on the surface, but if you choose to become consumed by it, you'll find yourself obsessed with a seemingly endless realm of possibilities.

This brings us to the Cincinnati Bengals. With all of the recent rumors and reports swirling throughout the 2014 offseason, it's easy to lose focus as a fan. One minute you're thinking of draft scenarios for the first round, and it begins to quickly escalate into sensational free agency acquisitions or trades with other teams. When it comes to the Bengals, it's important to consider the history of what this team has done during the offseason.

Regarding the offseason, if there's one thing that the Bengals have proven to value more than anything else, it's their own talent. You really don't need to look back very far to see the mindset of this team. Andre Smith, Rey Maualuga, Adam Jones, Michael Johnson, Terence Newman, Robert Geathers, Wallace Gilberry, and Brandon Tate are the more recognizable names that the Bengals focused on in 2013. They kept all of them. Marvin Lewis emphasized the desire to use their cap space on their own guys, and that's exactly what they did.

This shouldn't be news to Bengals fans. Consider this a reminder of what this team values: Keeping their own and building through the draft. With the news of an approximate $7 million increase in cap space, it's easy to let our thoughts derail and consider the splash that could be made in free agency. While some of us may be envisioning headlines of Eric Decker, Darren McFadden, and Brent Grimes collectively packing their bags and booking a ticket to CVG, the reality is that Mike Brown and Marvin Lewis are likely plotting their ability to use the extra cap space to their advantage for players like Michael Johnson and Anthony Collins.

Expect at least a handful of key re-signings. Expect the Bengals to secure some long-term contracts sooner rather than later. And if the Bengals create waves and sign a player like Michael Vick? Well, expect a lot of headlines. Like True Detective, I'm tempering my expectations. Stay on course, and if there's a fantastic twist to all of this, please avoid the gimmicks. Either way, avoid spoilers on Twitter if possible.

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