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PFF/ESPN: Buyer Beware Free Agents

The Cincinnati Bengals aren't likely to be heavy players in free agency, in regards to acquiring new big-time players. And that's a good thing.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The trend is typically this: If a player's name is known and expected to be available through the NFL draft or free agency, there's a higher probability that someone will demand said player. Obviously that makes sense because you're not going to demand for someone that you don't know, are you? One of those players is Reggie Bush, who most likely won't be with Cincinnati if one believes informed speculation at Pro Football Focus' Khaled Elsayed via ESPN In$ider offers a list of "buyer beware" free agents, including Bush.

Out of 59 running backs to play at least 200 snaps, Bush finished 31st in our rankings, and that was mostly due to his receiving skills. For Bush, the same old problems prevail, as he averaged just 2.06 yards after contact per carry, a number that was better than only five backs with more than 100 carries. He just isn't a convincing runner between the tackles, teasing us with the idea he will be and then being quick to bounce the ball outside.

The truth is that the New Orleans Saints used him the way they did because that was the best use of his talents. Now he is older and has less tread on the tires.

Other players in this "buyer beware" list includes cornerback Cary Williams, safety LaRon Landry, defensive end Osi Umenyiora, linebacker Connor Barwin, cornerback Sean Smith, tight end Justin Keller, offensive tackle Jake Long and wide receiver Donnie Avery.

And Bengals linebacker Rey Maualuga.

Granted, no team thinks it's going to be getting a superstar linebacker with Maualuga, but it might think it has found itself a stopgap starter and pay him as such.

And it would be wrong to do so.

Maualuga was our lowest-ranked middle linebacker this season, struggling all over the field but being a particular liability in coverage (London Fletcher was the only linebacker to give up more than Maualuga's 37 combined first downs and touchdowns). Throw in 16 missed tackles -- fifth most among inside linebackers -- and you have a liability on your hands.