Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Johnathan Joseph is the second-best cornerback on the free agent market, according to one NFL Executive, writes John Keim of the Washington Examiner. This isn't surprising. Much of what we've read about the free agent market, rare as those seem, is that Joseph could be the more talented overall cornerback compared to Nnamdi Asomugha, who is often praised as the better shutdown corner. But when it comes to other things, like tackling and even single-man coverage, some claim Joseph isn't just the cheaper option, he's the better player. Teams like the Houston Texans, Philadelphia Eagles and Seattle Seahawks have been attached to Joseph in mostly conjecture postings from NFL Insiders.
However, the Bengals remain big players for Joseph. Leading contenders? Who can say. However, if it's any indication as to how Joseph feels about returning, when asked about possibly being slapped with the franchise tag, Joseph quickly said in late December:
"I'd sign it the first day," Joseph said with a laugh. "Hopefully we can get a deal done before then."
Before saying, "what else would you expect him to say", take note that most player's reactions when franchised usually involves belly-aching at the least, often with a promise not to sign it. Not Joseph, who could have scored around $14.3 million for a one-year guaranteed salary. Unlike the Steelers (LaMarr Woodley) and Ravens (Haloti Ngata), the Bengals elected not to use the franchise tag that many suspect was a pointless effort anyway as a possible casualty with a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
There is some positive hope that Joseph can be signed with the proposed increase spending floor. Add that to the high expectation that the Bengals have every intention of addressing Joseph, along with Cedric Benson, as their top free agent priorities when the new league year begins. However, in Joseph's case, he has leverage of often being viewed as the second-best cornerback available in free agency.