In a recent article on cincinnati.com, Bengals beat writer Joe Reedy noted, along with the confirmation from the NFL on the correct cap number for 2012, that the Bengals and unrestricted free agent Reggie Nelson are set to talk Monday morning in an attempt to get an extension completed before free agency kicks off Tuesday at 4 p.m.Nelson came to Cincinnati by means of a trade in 2010 that saw the Bengals send CB David Jones to Jacksonville in return for Nelson. Nelson was drafted by Jacksonville with the twenty-first overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft and has 13 interceptions along with 258 tackles in his five year career.
Nelson has begun to play very well in a Bengals secondary lacking in any exceptional talent after losing Jonathon Joseph to the Houston Texans in free agency in 2010 and Leon Hall rupturing his Achilles' tendon in 2011. Although some may not see Nelson as being a player worth the $6.212 million that he would earn, if the Bengals were to have franchised him instead of kicker Mike Nugent, he is the only reliable and productive safety the Bengals have and they need to re-sign him because of it.
Chris Crocker is a free agent after the 2012 season, Gibril Wilson had positive moments last year but he is aging (30) and possibly in the twilight of his career, and the Bengals would love for Taylor Mays and Robert Sands to step up and play like they are capable but you do not want to count on a young, green player to step up and fill a roster hole (see Jerome Simpson from 2007-2010). The Bengals secondary is full of "could be"'s and aging veterans, but Nelson is the only player that is young, strong, reliable, and proven.
If a deal is not completed by Tuesday then Nelson will hit the open market and there will certainly not be a paucity of suitors in line for his services. Nelson has been reported as a possible target for teams such as the Bears, Texans, and Dolphins. With a shortage of safeties in free agency this year, it is no doubt that Nelson, if not re-signed by the Bengals, will find a team to play for and be rewarded handsomely to do so.