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Round Table: Cincinnati Bengals Free Agency Progress

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Josh Kirkendall, Jason Garrison and Mojokong take a moment from their hectic lives to talk Cincinnati Bengals, free agency, Carlos Dunlap (over Michael Johnson) and the undead.


On a scale of one to ten, how surprised are you about the Bengals inactivity so far in free agency?

Josh: What is a ten?
Jason: Ten is shocked to death. One is that you're a fortune teller.
Josh: If we're a ten, shocked to death, then wouldn't we be more surprised that we're dead?
Mojo: Three. I thought they would look at some veteran safeties, but as noted many times, the Bengals simply haven't been major players this time of year.

Josh: On the Garrison Scale of Shock, I'm virtually a one. We've promoted for weeks that the Bengals won't be heavy spenders, arguing why they'll continue building through the draft, adding pieces to the roster through free agency. Even head coach Marvin Lewis promoted several times that they're focusing on their own. Not sure where or how that message got lost or ignored for those losing their minds about the lack of activity.

Mojo: Doesn't matter who says what. Most fans just want action, even if it doesn't make the most business sense.
Josh: That's fine. But that's on the fans for driving unsubstantiated expectation when warned several times that they weren't going to spend. Fans can't be mad after the team told fans exactly what's going to happen, and most at the time nodded their heads demanding Michael Johnson and Andre Smith back. And frankly those same fans would be twice as pissed by not keeping our own because the team ran out of cash.

Jason: I'd have to say that I'm right around a two or three. The Bengals are being the Bengals right now and the Bengals don't get active in free agency until all the top-ranked players are gone. They seem completely content to make due with the second-tier guys, and honestly, it has worked for them over the past few years. However, with the talent out there that exists at the positions the Bengals need, you'd think they would pull the trigger on someone. But, I'm not surprised at all.
Josh: This year is completely different, if we take it on a year-by-year basis. Before they just didn't have the talent and needed to use free agency to rebuild the roster. That's not the case this year. They're working twice as hard just to keep their own.

Mojo: Here is a question specifically for Josh: What free agent remaining do you want the Bengals to sign?
Josh: First and foremost, our own. Have to get Adam Jones back, Newman I want also but won't break into hives if that doesn't happen. But the least talked about is Thomas Howard. There has to be some resolution at linebacker before the NFL Draft. Do they leave WILL unattended or does Burfict stay there while the team adds MIKE?

Mojo: No one from any other teams?
Josh: Personally, without naming names (because by the time this publishes, they might be signed already), I'd like some help in the secondary, maybe even a Brent Grimes who might be a little cheaper coming off an injury. Also need help at the back-end of the running back roster.

Mojo: I like Mike Goodson. He's fast, explosive, I liked what I saw from him in Carolina and then in Oakland. I think he could add some explosion to the position and is probably more durable than Bernard Scott. I think I might be more durable than Scott (not really, I would break on contact).
Josh: Like him too, but view him more as a Brian Leonard replacement; third down specialist, blocks decent, good hands. I think the two-part of the duel-back system will be figured through the NFL draft.

Jason: Can I play?
Josh: WHOA, how did you get in here?!
Mojo: Please, proceed.
Jason: I agree that our own free agents are the most important, starting with Smith, Jones and Howard. But if I got to choose someone out of free agency from another team, I'd be interested in a cornerback like Grimes or DeAngelo Hall or a wide receiver like Greg Jennings. I could also see a change-of-pace back like Leon Washington having success if he was used right.
Mojo: I think Jennings would be way too expensive, but I like the idea of a veteran receiver we don't have to wait to develop.

Josh. Maybe it's just a difference in philosophy. I'm all in with the draft and think free agency is a way to fill leaky gaps on the roster, but not with starters; unless it makes sense and not at the risk of losing the core pieces. I know it's not your guy's suggestion, but Geno Atkins, A.J. Green and Carlos Dunlap have to be the biggest priority beyond this offseason.
Mojo: I agree with that. I also think re-signing Burfict will become a priority in about two more years. I also agree with your philosophy, Josh, but there has to be at least some free agent starters based on sheer numbers. I think a starting FA linebacker or safety would still be fine as stop gaps, as you say. But, yes, Geno, Dunlap and AJ are supreme priorities.

Jason: With all of the young talent on the team, the Bengals are going to have to really break out the check book to keep everyone on the roster. That's the way it should be, though. That's why good teams are always in a tough spot when it comes to the salary cap.

Is Dunlap really as valuable as we make him out to be?

Mojo: I still think so. His numbers were down some last year, but the effect he has on quarterbacks is a real thing in my opinion. Sure Geno is king along the front four, and yes those 51 sacks were certainly a team effort, but Dunlap has physical abilities that actually scare other men and it's my thinking that Dunlap's presence on the line allowed for a larger pay day for Johnson. He still hasn't played a full season though.

Josh: Between the two, I'd choose Dunlap over Johnson every time.
Jason: I would say that he is, but it's really hard to see. I think he's the team's best natural pass rusher from the edge, but he has some slight durability issues that have held him up. Michael Johnson's one big season could have been a product of being in a contract year and had that not happened, this would be a no brainer. Hopefully Dunlap is 100 percent healthy at the beginning of the year and shows everyone exactly what he can do.

Josh: I can't remember the exact numbers, but Dunlap actually generated a better pass rush to quarterback pressure ratio than even Geno Atkins. Here's from a previous bacon we posted: Atkins has the overall numbers and the national glory (as he should), but Dunlap is equally a threat to opposing quarterbacks. One out of every 12.7 snaps, Dunlap records a pressure and one of out of every 31.4 snaps, he hits the quarterback; both numbers are more productive than Atkins, who generated a hurry per 13.6 drops and a hit per 37.1 snaps.
Mojo: I would like to see him play all 16 games next season.
Jason: I agree, having Dunlap on the field for all 16 games in his contract year could be a big deal. I hope it happens.
Mojo: He would command mega-cash if he stays healthy.
Jason: And we better pay up.

Mojo: If Johnson has the same kind of season this year, do the Bengals sign him long term too?
Josh: No. If the Bengals sign him long-term, it'll be before the July deadline this year. Otherwise he may be far too expensive, especially if Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap remain unsigned by this time next year. Not to mention A.J. Green and Andy Dalton are allowed to work on extensions next year.

Jason: Now it's Josh's turn to ask a question.
Josh: During a Zombie Apocalypse, would you prefer a sword or gun as your weapon for survival?

Jason: Sword. 100 percent sword. 10 million percent sword.
Mojo: I'm gonna go with a sword because it doesn't run out of ammo. Most Zombies don't carry guns from my understanding.
Josh: Guns attract too much attention.
Jason: Plus you'd have a fuggin' sword!
Mojo: You don't need a license for a sword.

Josh: Would you wield it like Conan or Kiddo from Kill Bill?
Jason: Oh, you gotta go with a great sword like Conan. It's not only good for slicing but for clubbing somebody to death. Plus, that would give me an excuse to dress like a barbarian and talk like Khal Drogo.
Josh: That was uncomfortable.

Mojo: I would wield mine like Drew Stubbs and miss my target 80 percent of the time. Plus, I'm not very good with a sword.
Jason: How do you know that? Have you tried to be good with a sword before?
Josh: Just hit them with the pointy end.
Jason: Again with A Song of Ice and Fire reference, Josh. That's two.
Mojo: I've used plastic ones, and I never killed anyone with it.
Josh: Technically they're the undead, so you're not killing anything.
Mojo: That makes me feel better about it. Thanks.