Now that the dark days of the NFL lockout are behind us, it's time to focus on the things that the Bengals need to do to give themselves the best chance to succeed in 2011. With a rookie quarterback likely to take the snaps this year, the team will need to rely not only on a strong running game and on their defense as well.
That's why re-signing Johnathan Joseph is one of the most important moves, if not the most important move, the Bengals can make now that the lockout is over. Joseph and Leon Hall are one of the best cornerback duos in the NFL and keeping the two together will be extremely important for the team's chances of success in the immediate future.
Since the Bengals are about a bajillion dollars below the floor of the salary cap, many believe that they are the leading suitors to sign Joseph. They have around $50 million to spend, so why not spend it on re-signing their most important free agents? There's no question that the Bengals will attempt to sign Joseph as soon as they can, but they're not the only team that will try to get their hands on him.
According to ESPN's Chris Mortensen, the Detroit Lions could be in line to grab the talented cornerback from the Bengals.
I say watch out for Lions and Bengals FA CB Jonathan Joseph
The Lions could definitely use Joseph. They have been building their defense through the draft, selecting Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley to play next to Ndamukong Suh in the first round of the 2011 draft, and now that they have some talent on their defensive line, they are looking to solidify their secondary. Joseph, ranked one of the best free agent cornerbacks, could be the perfect player for the right price.
Of course this doesn't mean that the Bengals are going to just let him walk right through the door... hopefully.
Perhaps the Bengals' biggest ally in re-signing Joseph is the fact that they have a ton of cap space to work with. You can kind of thank Carson Palmer for that. The Lions, on the other hand, don't have that kind of cap space. Matthew Stafford didn't demand a trade in the offseason and the Lions have been selecting in the top-10 in the draft for a long enough time to build a nice collection of big contract players. If they decide to go after Joseph, they won't have a ton of money to use elsewhere. That could help the Bengals hold on to Joseph as well.
Hopefully the Bengals see the value in re-signing Joseph and use some of that large amount of cap space to keep him in Cincinnati. If they don't, we could see Joseph move from the Queen City to Motor City very soon.
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