+ During one of my twitter sessions earlier this week, I prompted: "I say Philip Wheeler, you say?" Responses were roughly 50/50. To me it's an interesting hypothetical. Wheeler, who becomes an unrestricted free agent next month, generated 109 tackles, three quarterback sacks, two forced fumbles, 14 hits on the quarterback and 13 more pressures.
And he played primarily strong-side linebacker in 2012; a position that will feature a position battle between Aaron Maybin and Brandon Joiner this year. However don't ask Wheeler to cover anyone. He allowed 83.6 percent of the passes thrown to targets he covered for an opposing passer rating of 111.1 (both of which were worse than Rey Maualuga).
SAM linebacker in Cincinnati's defense won't be asked to play much coverage anyway -- the Bengals will play five-DB schemes during obvious passing downs -- unlike middle linebacker who tends to play every down. Figure WILL (Thomas Howard, Emmanuel Lamur) are paired with Vontaze Burfict while the defensive backfield is loaded with former first-round draft picks.
Global suspicion is that the Bengals aren't expected to be heavy spenders during free agency
So we prompt: "I say Philip Wheeler, you say?"
+ Our own Joe Goodberry released his safety rankings this week and in case you missed it, here's his running back rankings from several weeks back.
+ The_Black_Stripes did a great job breaking down salary cap and minimum cash spending requirements, per the collective bargaining agreement.
+ Joe Reedy with the Cincinnati Enquirer on the Bengals wide receiver position:
"For four games it appeared as if the Bengals had their second receiver in Sanu. He then was injured before the Week 13 game at San Diego. Jones has speed and could stretch the field but he was inconsistent as a rookie. Due to injuries, there wasn’t one game where Green, Sanu, Jones and Hawkins were on the field at the same time. Compared to last year, you would say that the position is trending up due to the additions of Sanu and Jones, but there is still a question about who will emerge as the second receiver opposite Green."
+ Mel Kiper Jr. on the Cincinnati Bengals recent drafting practices:
"It's a team that has always done a good job evaluating players from a talent standpoint; they know who has talent," Kiper said in his Wednesday conference call. "Marvin has been there a long time and he coaches these guys well. Some teams have shied away from a player here or there and maybe they've reached a bit, but at the end of the day, they've always been a team that has talent."
+ The 2012 Football Outsiders Awards didn't feature many Bengals, save for a few Geno Atkins votes for defensive MVP of the year.
+ NFL.com offseason forecast for the Bengals.