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Bengals Free Agency Shopping List

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The ribbon on the 2015 NFL free agency period is about to be cut, and while a lot of the top end talent has already signed, there remain a number free agents on the market that can give the Bengals some much needed depth and maybe even a starter or two. That being said, here is the 2015 Bengals shopping list.

Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports

Free agency "begins" today at 4 p.m, though if you have been  following the news wires, half of the available free agents (at least the good ones) have already "agreed to terms" with teams. To help keep up with the signings, here is a useful site with the top free agents at every position. The site updates as signings are announced. So, in anticipation of 4 p.m, when free agency technically begins, I have put together a position-by-position free agency shopping list for the Bengals.

Quarterback Position

Chances the Bengals sign a free agent Quarterback: 95%

Chances the Bengals sign a free agent Quarterback from outside the organization: 10%

Pipe dream free agents:

None

Realistic free agents:

Jason Campbell

Quality free agents, but not likely a good fit:

Jake Locker

The rest of the list:
Matt Moore
Christian Ponder
Tarvaris Jackson

Shaun Hill
Michael Vick
Colt McCoy
Blaine Gabbert
T.J. Yates
Tyrod Taylor
Matt Flynn

Quarterback Shopping Instructions: The Bengals will sign a free agent quarterback, but chances are it will simply be a re-signing of Jason Campbell. There are a couple of reasons for that

1) Campbell knows Hue Jackson's system

2) Campbell is a solid veteran backup

3) There is no one on the market any better than Campbell

4) Campbell will come at a reasonable price

5) If AJ McCarron shows he can be the backup, Campbell's inexpensive contract (and likely 1-year deal) will not create a lot of dead money for the Bengals - something the Bengals hate.


Running Back Position

Chances the Bengals sign a free agent Running Back: 50%

Chances the Bengals sign a free agent Running Back from outside the organization: 5%

Pipe dream free agents:

None

Realistic free agents:

Cedric Peerman

Quality free agents, but not likely a good fit:

DeMarco Murray
C.J. Spiller
Ryan Mathews
Justin Forsett
Shane Vereen
Stevan Ridley
Roy Helu

Reggie Bush
Ahmad Bradshaw
Darren McFadden
Knowshon Moreno
Pierre Thomas
DeAngelo Williams

Chris Johnson

The rest of the list:
Ben Tate

Steven Jackson

Antone Smith
Jacquizz Rodgers

Shopping Instructions: There are plenty of big names on the running back market but the Bengals won't be shopping in this aisle. With Jeremy Hill, Giovani Bernard and Rex Burkhead, the Bengals top three running back spots are set. Cedric Peerman is a free agent and a special teams stalwart, but if he is looking for more playing time, he will move on and the Bengals will fill his spot with a younger back like James Wilder, Jr. or a rookie. If Peerman is willing to keep the same role, the Bengals may bring him back for another year or two.

Fullback Position

Chances the Bengals sign a free agent Fullback: 25%

Chances the Bengals sign a free agent Fullback from outside the organization: 25%

Pipe dream free agents:

None

Realistic free agents:

John Conner

Quality free agents, but not likely a good fit:

John Kuhn

The rest of the list:

Jerome Felton
Henry Hynoski
Jed Collins
Tyler Clutts
Will Tukuafu
Jackie Battle
Montell Owens

Shopping Instructions: Originally, with the success Ryan Hewitt had as a rookie, I didn't see any reason the Bengals would sign a free agent fullback. But, the more I look at it, there is a possibility, and here's why. With Jermaine Gresham likely to go elsewhere and the market for blocking tight ends being very weak, I could see a scenario where the Bengals sign a "true" fullback and use Hewitt as their blocking tight end and H-Back. If the Bengals were to go this route, John Conner would likely be the favorite based on familiarity with the coaches.


Wide Receiver Position

Chances the Bengals sign a free agent Wide Receiver: 40%

Chances the Bengals sign a free agent Wide Receiver from outside the organization: 40%

Pipe dream free agents:

Dez Bryant (Franchise Tagged)
Demaryius Thomas (Franchise Tagged)
Torrey Smith

Percy Harvin
Michael Crabtree

Wes Welker

Andre Johnson

Realistic free agents:

Eddie Royal

Denarius Moore
Harry Douglas

Miles Austin
Donnie Avery

Brandon Gibson

Quality free agents, but not likely a good fit:

Kenny Britt
Cecil Shorts

Nate Washington
Hakeem Nicks

Mike Williams
Reggie Wayne
Vincent Brown

Miles Austin
Robert Meachem

Lance Moore

The rest of the list:
Irrelevant

Shopping Instructions: While there are plenty of exciting names still on this list, don't get your hopes up here. With A.J. Green, Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu all due to become free agents next year, the Bengals will be working to sign their own. The Bengals will address wide receiver depth and speed through the draft. The only possibility for a free agent signing would be an experienced, inexpensive slot guy like Eddie Royal.


Tight End Position

Chances the Bengals sign a free agent Tight End: 90%

Chances the Bengals sign a free agent Tight End from outside the organization: 75%

Pipe dream free agents:

Julius Thomas
Jordan Cameron
Charles Clay (Transition Tagged)

Virgil Greem

Realistic free agents:

Jermaine Gresham

James Casey

Anthony Fasano

Alex Smith

Quality free agents, but not likely a good fit:

Rob Housler
Owen Daniels

Zach Miller
Tony Moeaki

The rest of the list:
Lance Kendricks

Lee Smith
Dante Rosario
Jacob Tamme
Daniel Fells
Ed Dickson

Shopping Instructions: I believe the Bengals will sign a veteran tight end and I don't believe it will be Jermaine Gresham. The key will be that the veteran will need to be a good blocking tight end and that eliminates a lot of the big names. Unfortunately, the player I thought would be a great fit, Charles Clay, received the transition tag. While the transition tag wouldn't cost the Bengals any picks, the application of the tag means the player will likely be out of the Bengals' price range and therefore I think the tag has eliminated Clay from the Bengals' radar. What that means is, the tight end the Bengals sign is not likely to cause much excitement.



Offensive Tackle Position

Chances the Bengals sign a free agent Offensive Tackle: 90%

Chances the Bengals sign a free agent Offensive Tackle from outside the organization: 25%

Pipe dream free agents:

None - Bengals don't need a big name/priced tackle

Realistic free agents:

Eric Winston (re-signed with Cincinnati)

Anthon Collins (if cut/released)

Quality free agents, but not likely a good fit:

Bryan Bulaga
Joe Barksdale
Byron Bell
Jermey Parnell
Ryan Harris

The rest of the list:
Tyler Polumbus
Corey Hilliard
Marshall Newhouse

Shopping Instructions: The Bengals will sign at least one offensive tackle and I can assure you that it won't be Marshall Newhouse. It sounds like the Bengals would like to bring back Eric Winston as a backup and all indications are that the interest is mutual. The interesting possibility is if Anthony Collins were to be released. If so, I think the Bengals would sign him back, the question would be whether they would sign him and Winston or just one.


Guard/Center Position

Chances the Bengals sign a free agent Guard/Center: 75%

Chances the Bengals sign a free agent Guard/Center from outside the organization: 25%

Pipe dream free agents:

Stefen Wisniewski

Realistic free agents:

Clint Boling

Chris Myers

Justin Blalock

Brian De La Puente

The rest of the list:
Rob Sims

Will Montgomery

Scott Wells
Dominic Raiola
Jonathan Goodwin
Willie Colon

Mike Pollak

Shopping Instructions: Two weeks ago, I was 90% sure the Bengals would re-sign Clint Boling. As of today, I am about 75% sure that Boling will be gone - not because the Bengals don't want him back, but because he is drawing a lot of interest and likely will get a big offer that the Bengals won't match. The Bengals were high on Trey Hopkins in the preseason before he suffered a season ending injury and at this point, all indications are that they are comfortable moving on without Boling. The Bengals will likely sign a free agent guard, even if it isn't Boling, but it likely won't be a name that generates any excitement. But, as long as it give them a solid starter or good depth, I am fine with that.

Defensive End/Outside Linebacker Position

Chances the Bengals sign a free agent Defensive End/Outside Linebacker: 75%

Chances the Bengals sign a free agent Defensive End/Outside Linebacker from outside the organization: 75%

Pipe dream free agents:

Justin Houston (Franchise Tagged)
Jason Pierre-Paul (Franchise Tagged)

Greg Hardy

Realistic free agents:

Jabaal Sheard
Derrick Morgan

Quality free agents, but not likely a good fit:

Jason Worilds
Adrian Clayborn
Akeem Ayers
Brooks Reed

Trent Cole

The rest of the list:
Brett Keisel

John Abraham
George Selvie

LaMarr Woodley
O'Brien Schofield
James Harrison
Dwight Freeney
Sam Acho
Corey Wootton
Anthony Spencer
Osi Umenyiora
Kroy Biermann

Mathias Kiwanuka
Da'Quan Bowers

Shopping Instructions: There are some big names on this list as well, but many have been franchise tagged, are old, are 3-4 players or all of the above. As a result, I don't see many players on this list that are legitimate options for the Bengals. I do think Jabaal Sheard and Derrick Morgan - both natural 4-3 ends - could and probably will be targets of the Bengals. I also agree with many reports that indicate the Bengals will at least kick the tires of Greg Hardy IF he stays on the market for a few weeks and the price drops. From a football standpoint, Hardy would be a huge upgrade and great fit. From a personal conduct standpoint, I don't trust that he has changed and therefore Hardy concerns me and I would not pay big money for him.


Defensive Tackle Position

Chances the Bengals sign a free agent Defensive Tackle: 50%

Chances the Bengals sign a free agent Defensive Tackle from outside the organization: 50%

Pipe dream free agents:

Nick Fairley
Terrance Knighton

Realistic free agents:

Pat Sims

Quality free agents, but not likely a good fit:

Dan Williams
Stephen Paea
C.J. Mosley
Henry Melton

Vince Wilfork

Cory Redding

Barry Cofield
Letroy Guion
B.J. Raji

The rest of the list:
Kevin Williams
Jarvis Jenkins
Tommy Kelly
Chris Canty

Shopping Instructions: Many Bengals fans had dreams of Ndomakong Suh in stripes, but that pipe dream has been unofficially officially smashed. There is still some quality talent on the market though at the defensive tackle position. I would like to see the Bengals sign Knighton, but I think that is a pipe dream as well. There are some names that the Bengals may look at to add depth to their tackle rotation, but I no longer think the Bengals are going to sign a free agent tackle who will be a starter. I could see them bringing back Pat Sims as a run-stuffer or maybe another lesser named run-stuffing tackle.

Inside Linebacker Position

Chances the Bengals sign a free agent Inside Linebacker: 40%

Chances the Bengals sign a free agent Inside Linebacker from outside the organization: 40%

Pipe dream free agents:

None. There are no ILBs in this free agency class good enough to be considered a "pipe dream."

Realistic free agents:

A.J. Hawk

Quality free agents, but not likely a good fit:

Mason Foster
Rolando McClain

Nate Irving

The rest of the list:
Irrelevant

Shopping Instructions: There really is no one on the inside linebacker list worth getting excited about. Believe it or not, Rey Maualuga may have been the best available inside linebacker. Hawk does intrigue me from this aspect - he brings great experience and leadership and he provides an insurance plan if Burfict isn't healthy in 2015 (or can't play full-time). If Burfict's knee is troublesome, Maualuga can slide over to Burfict's strong side and Hawk can play the middle. With that in mind, signing Hawk for one or two years may be a decent idea (as long as the money is right).



4-3 Outside Linebacker Position

Chances the Bengals sign a free agent Outside Linebacker: 10%

Chances the Bengals sign a free agent Outside Linebacker from outside the organization: 10%

Pipe dream free agents:

None. There are no outside linebackers in this free agency class good enough to be considered a "pipe dream."

Realistic free agents:

None. I don't see any 4-3 outside linebackers that improve the Bengals.

Quality free agents, but not likely a good fit:

Malcolm Smith
Lance Briggs
Justin Durant
Jonathan Casillas
Bruce Carter
Jacquian Williams
Spencer Paysinger

Philip Wheeler

The rest of the list:
Irrelevant

Shopping Instructions: Take a look at the list above. I'll wait. Notice that Lance Briggs is one of the top players on the list. If this list was from 2006, I would agree. At age 34, Briggs being second on this list shows just how bad the 2015 outside linebacker free agency class is. It also explains why the Bengals will be re-signing Emmanuel Lamur.



Cornerback Position

Chances the Bengals sign a free agent Cornerback: 5%

Chances the Bengals sign a free agent Cornerback from outside the organization: 5%

Quality free agents, but not likely a good fit:
Darrelle Revis (if cut/released)
Tramon Williams
Antonio Cromartie
Buster Skrine
Chris Culliver
Perrish Cox
Cary Williams
Rashean Mathis
Terence Newman
Charles Tillman
Shareece Wright
Cortland Finnegan
Kyle Wilson

Shopping Instructions: Above is the list of free agent cornerbacks, but the Bengals have their top four corners already on their roster. If they add any new corners, it will be through the draft, not through free agency.



Safety Position

Chances the Bengals sign a free agent Safety: 40%

Chances the Bengals sign a free agent Safety from outside the organization: 15%

Pipe dream free agents:

None. There are no safeties in this free agency class good enough to be considered a "pipe dream."

Realistic free agents:

Taylor Mays

The rest of the list:
Rahim Moore
Antrel Rolle
Louis Delmas
Marcus Gilchrist
Dawan Landry
Mike Adams
LaRon Landry
Bernard Pollard
Danieal Manning
George Wilson
Dwight Lowery
Brandon Meriweather


Shopping Instructions: Safety is another position the Bengals will likely not address in free agency. They brought Danieal Manning in last year and he couldn't crack the roster. The same would happen with most of these safeties. The only free agent safety the Bengals may sign is hybrid safety/linebacker Taylor Mays. The Bengals want Mays back, but on the Bengals, he is a backup. Mays is getting interest from other teams, and if he gets an offer to start, he'll likely be gone.


Kicker/Punter Position

Chances the Bengals sign a free agent kicker/punter: 0%

Kevin Huber is under contract and the Bengals have re-signed Mike Nugent.

Shopping Instructions: No need to waste time walking down this aisle.


Top Restricted Free Agents:

Doubtful that the Bengals would sign a restricted free agent - not their MO - but for curiosity's sake, here are some of the top restricted free agents.

Tashaun Gipson
Damon Harrison
Will Hill
Derrick Shelby
Jerrell Freeman (Second-Round Tender)
Cedric Thornton (Second-Round Tender)

George Johnson (Original Pick Tender)
Justin Tucker
Andre Holmes (Original Pick Tender)
Emmanuel Lamur (Second-Round Tender)
Devon Still
Jarrett Boykin