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BB: Legal Tampering, Dashon Goldson, George Iloka

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We open the morning bacon with some mailbag questions, including the new legal three-day tampering rule.

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+ Let's open with a mailbag and some questions.

When does the new three-day grace period for free agency start? - Twitter

For those of you unaware, there is a new free agency lead-in period that allows teams to negotiate with soon-to-be free agents three days prior to the start of the new league year. Previously this would have been defined as tampering, but we suspect since the league turned a blind eye anyway while some media belly-ached about it, the NFL said, fine we'll just allow it during a shorten period right before free agency.

Starting March 9, club representatives are allowed to speak with agents about the players they represent, even enter contract negotiations. For example other teams may negotiate with Andre Smith's agent or any unrestricted free agent. Just keep in mind that nothing can be finalized until March 12 at 4 PM (ET).

Here are a couple of other notes:

  • Teams can only contact and speak to certified agents and not the players.
  • If a player doesn't have an agent, then he can't negotiate with other teams until the new league year.
  • No visits are allowed until after free agency starts.
  • This only applies to unrestricted free agents -- not restricted free agents and franchise players.

Expect rumors to be fairly rampant.

What's George's standing? There's a lot of talk about drafting a safety, a position in which the Bengals are definitely lacking. Does Iloka have a chance to fill that void? -Matt

Iloka was active in seven games during his rookie campaign, two of which included special teams contributions -- he led the team with two special teams tackles against the Cleveland Browns on September 16. However he didn't without a recorded defensive snap.

If the Bengals use their first round selection to draft a safety, it's because they don't feel a better option exists on the roster and that the need has thus become that dire. Equally so if they crack open the piggy bank for an experience veteran like Dashon Goldson, who would make sense in Mike Zimmer's defense and has a history of all-star success.

Though by no means demeaning to anyone, I believe the best way for Iloka and Tony Dye to make the 2013 roster will be through special teams.

Do you really think that the Cincinnati Bengals have a chance to sign Goldson? - Twitter

Sure. Even 0.000001 percent could techically be defined as a "chance". Will they attempt to sign Goldson? Well that's an entirely different question with a more predictable reaction. And despite the arguments in the comments boiling down to what he's worth, our thought-process goes here.

Even if the Bengals fail to sign Andre Smith, we don't think Cincinnati will react with a signfiicant free agent signing at either position. The Bengals have defined most of their roster building through the draft. Smith, Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap, Leon Hall, Andrew Whitworth, A.J. Green, all acquired through the NFL draft. And that doesn't include starters signed as undrafted free agents.

Just because the Bengals have over $40 million available under the salary cap, it doesn't mean they're going to rapidly change their philosolphy away from acquiring their best talent through the NFL draft. To me Atkins and Green are the must-sign players on this roster; everyone else, including Smith, is replaceable. However don't read into that statement as supporting the departure of their best players during free agency. Have to keep and sign their best players so that the NFL draft isn't being used to replace your own.

+ Using the Scout, Inc. grades (where do these grades come from?), ESPN ranks Rey Maualuga as ninth-best unrestricted free agent with franchise players excluded. Ninth! Their ranking comes with analysis:

Maualuga is a big, strong and athletic linebacker who is best as a run defender. He is an instinctive linebacker and plays with great run fits to the line of scrimmage. He uses active hands in block protection to get to the ball. He is somewhat limited as a pass defender but is effective in combination zone coverages. He is a physical presence and sets the tone defensively. The Cincinnati defense is built around him.

Without using four-letter words that earns a piercing stare from Sister Jude Martin (anyone?), what's your conclusion on Scouts, Inc. conclusion on Rey Maualuga?

+ Driving down the road listening to ESPN 1530, you hear a sports update from NBC Sports Radio Updates. You're thinking, huh? Jim Kiesewetter with the Cincinnati Enquirer learned:

Here’s what I found out: The "NBC Sports Radio Updates" are part of Clear Channel Cincinnati’s agreement with Dial Global Sports, which provides ESPN WCKY-AM (1530) with the NCAA basketball tournament and NFL games

+ Mocking the Draft released their linebacker rankings heading into the 2013 NFL draft.

+ Steven Godfrey writes a long-form story on Bobby Petrino, which is a good read. Though we're fairly confident Mike Zimmer, reading this right now, has no intension on clicking this link.

+ For those of you hoping that the Cincinnati Bengals make a serious run for wide receiver Mike Wallace, he's already developing a list of suitors, including the Tennessee Titans, Miami Dolphins and Minnesota Vikings. Poor ol' Jerome.

+ The Cleveland Clinic and the University of Rochester released findings from a study that concluded even non-concussive hits can still lead to long-term brain damage.