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Bengals have a payroll of $95 million; roughly $29 million under the cap

PFT received cap numbers for the 2009 season.

The Bengals currently have $95 million in salary, leaving $29 million under the $124 million 2009 salary cap (I don't know what "likely to be earned incentives" mean). With that amount of room, the Bengals have options to throw chunks of cash at a top-tier free agent, or, uh-hum, T.J. Houshmandzadeh.

However, you know. I know. My best friend Stan Marsh knows. It's unlikely. Maybe it's for the best. Each year we chat about acquiring free agents, when in reality the best players, the ones that truly make a difference, are very unlikely to leave their own team. And when those players finally do surface in the market, they are past their prime, willing to take hostage of your dollars.

That's not to say that we shouldn't look for those second-tier guys that make the market, becoming contributing role players for winning organizations. That's the point we need to reach; talent in the depths, rather than talent at the surface. We don't need starters as much as we need guys to fill in for those starters.