The Bengals are getting ready for what they hope to be one of the more productive free-agency periods in recent memory for the club.
Marvin Lewis has repeatedly stressed that 'change' is coming regarding how the Bengals handle free agency, among other things, a signal that perhaps the team is ready to be more active than they've traditionally been. While that may be true, Cincinnati is not going to shy away from what's helped them earn four straight playoff berths, and that starts with taking care of their own.
Geoff Hobson reports that the Bengals' top priorities ahead of next Tuesday's signing period is getting their own players re-signed, including coveted guard Clint Boling:
Indications are the Bengals’ top priorities look to be re-signing middle linebacker Rey Maualuga, left guard Clint Boling, and kicker Mike Nugent, as well as extending some of the 11 starters and regulars heading into the last year of their deals.
People don't want to hear this, but the Bengals would be wise to not toss out big bucks to other teams' free agents. While the Bengals' roster needs upgrades, guys like Andrew Whitworth, Marvin Jones, Andre Smith and A.J. Green also need extensions completed at some point before next year. They've been more critical to this team's success than most outside free agents would be.
It's not going to make or break this team in 2015 and beyond to lose Boling, Nugent and Maualuga, but getting them re-signed will certainly help.
As for where this team needs the biggest upgrade, Hobson notes the defensive line and adding a vertical threat at receiver are priorities.
They also want to shore up depth at defensive end, linebacker, and tight end. And by depth at defensive end, it looks more and more like they are not prepared to drop starting money at a spot where they think they’ll get a lot of snaps from the little-used Margus Hunt and Will Clarke. But it would seem they are also looking for a player to add to the rotation.
They’re also indicating they're looking to add depth with a receiver that is a vertical threat, but that seems to be more of a draft question.
Teams can start negotiating with free agents on Saturday and begin signing them next Tuesday.