Luckily for the Bengals, they didn't have many players heading to free agency under the "unrestricted free agent" tag. Instead, the Bengals elected to set aside approximately $10 million on their restricted free agents like Brandon Johnson, Rashad Jeanty, Evan Mathis, David Jones, Frostee Rucker and Abdul Hodge. And Dennis Roland, Nate Livings, Kyle Cook and Kyries Hebert; guys that rotate start and rotate on the offensive line and a good special teams contributor. They're not the sexy free agent players that Bengals fans demand. They're just solid players that play a critical role in making this team's depth strong. And the idea is that after those players, you start picking up other players to compete with those guys to make your team even better. Is the solution through free agency? It generally never is. But you also can't sit idle, or you'll watch a team like the Baltimore Ravens, who went from lacking receivers to having a talent receiver for mid-level draft picks and a contract similar to the one Laveranues Coles signed last offseason.
But that's not it.
The Bengals also have to focus on sealing their foundation players, extending the contracts of players like Johnathan Joseph, Leon Hall, Cedric Benson and Kyle Cook. With restricted free agents, as well as extending some of their core players, the Bengals appear more interested in signing veteran guys to fill in the gaps with short term deals. For the most part, I'm not totally against that. For one thing, the availability of players at spots on the roster are short in supply; so demand is causing heavy inflation on some players. But I also don't see the need to avoid attempts at making a run for a guy like Brandon Marshall, who in reality, would be better help, if not talent, than any first round pick that the Bengals could draft.
Either way, that's the direction that they appear to be heading. Keep their own and fill in the gaps with short-term deals to fill the gaps.