The Cincinnati Bengals have many free agents entering free agency this year, some unrestricted, restricted and exclusive-rights. We'll go through all of the free agents today and argue for the team to either re-sign them, ignore them or at the very least, we're listening. We went through our re-sign immediately list. Now our "we're listening" group.
CB Terence Newman. He wasn't supposed to be very good after being squeezed out of Dallas with every cliche of a declining cornerback being applied. Yet Newman started every game that he played for Cincinnati, generating multiple interceptions, a 57.7 completion percentage against receivers he covered and an opposing quarterback rating of 79.3. And he didn't allow a touchdown in the past nine games.
If the Bengals sign Adam Jones and Dre Kirkpatrick steps into the role that we envision of him, Newman would likely become a No. 4 cornerback. But consider this. Are you comfortable that Kirkpatrick stays healthy all season? Newman is a nice insurance policy.
LB Thomas Howard. Easily the team's best linebacker in 2011, Howard could easily return depending on the rehabilitation of his knee -- which will keep his price down in free agency. It will be interesting if the Bengals decide to move Vontaze Burfict inside, letting Rey Maualuga leave for free agency and putting Howard back on the outside with someone like Emmanuel Lamur.
Why we didn't place Howard as a MUST-SIGN IMMEDIATELY? His knee. Simple as that.
DE Robert Geathers. Just hear my reasoning. He won't get anything close to the contract he signed after 2006, which became an obsession among Bengals fans (especially me) due to the investment that the team made and the lack of return he gave in terms of quarterback sacks.
Additionally Geathers resumed his strength as a run defender, also starting every game this season. We're not supporting that Geathers comes back as a starter and we're not even arguing that he should return at all -- we're just listening to the argument. But Carlos Dunlap establishes zero confidence in durability and, much like Newman, the team needs an insurance policy.
But only if they're unable to find a replacement. Again. We're listening. For now.
S Chris Crocker. The Cincinnati Bengals didn't even have an interception until Crocker rejoined the team. Though I believe that safety is a position that the Bengals must address during the offseason, Crocker remains a rock for stability in the locker room, but he's not the solution at safety. Not anymore. But think of it this way. He should stick with the team during training camp to compete for a position, but shouldn't be given a spot based on his name and history.
Again. We'll listen to the suggestion, but it shouldn't be a certainty. On the other hand my confidence with this team finding a long-term solution at safety is minimal at best. Sure they traded for and signed Reggie Nelson several years ago. But then they tried moving Nate Clements there and it was, at best, horrifying. Apologizes for the language, but this team sucks at finding safeties.
PK Josh Brown and Mike Nugent. We're listing both because they're both solutions that we're fine with. I don't have a favorite either way and it will come down to cost. One thought however is that Mike Nugent ended 2010 and 2012 prematurely on IR.
LS Clark Harris. We didn't mention long-snapper Clark Harris once this year, which is probably the greatest thing you can say about a long snapper -- especially after the Brad St. Louis meltdown of 2010. Harris a restricted free agent. Go ahead and sign him.