Bengals cornerback Johnathan Joseph is set to become a free agent at midnight on March 4. There's still a possibility that the Cincinnati Bengals use the franchise tag on Joseph, locking him down for 2011. This would make sense if the Bengals expected to make a playoff run, keeping the core of their defense intact. Otherwise, if there's no reasonable expectation to get Joseph signed long-term this year, or even after next year if the franchise tag is applied, then the Bengals are just pushing the inevitability until next year.
And next year the Bengals are already tasked with deciding on what to do with Leon Hall and Adam Jones, both of whom have expiring contracts. And they're not the only ones. Andre Caldwell, Jerome Simpson, Anthony Collins, Pat Sims are heading into the final season of their rookie contracts. But that's for another day.
Cornerback Leon Hall's contract in 2011 will jump from $1.162 million from 2010 to $3.307 million. Well, if they play football next year, that is. Hall will be a free agent this time next year.
Hall had a tremendous season in 2009 but had a slight decline in 2010. Yet, he was still graded as the team's best defensive back in pass coverage by Pro Football Focus, typically grading higher than Joseph in the past three seasons.