There is plenty of speculation regarding the Bengals' six remaining unrestricted free agents: Reggie Nelson, Leon Hall, Pat Sims, Brandon Thompson, Wallace Gilberry and Andre Smith. However, there have also been plenty of interesting and, in some cases, downright surprising moves already with the rest of the Bengals' free agents, some of whom have re-signed with the team, while others have not.
Here's a quick look at the biggest Bengals winners and losers in free agency up to Saturday morning.
George Iloka's market value before he resigned with the Bengals was estimated at roughly $5.6 million per year, according to Spotrac. The Bengals re-signed him for $6 million per year for five years, a $30 million contract. Previously, he had been playing on a rookie contract valued at approximately $500,000 per year, worth about $2.2 million total.
Iloka was drafted by the Bengals in the fifth round in 2012, so the difference between his rookie contract and what he'll be making now is significant. Iloka will now be the second highest paid strong safety in the league but the Bengals re-signing him for the amount that they did still ends up looking like a steal for one of the best, if not the best, young safeties on the open market this year.
Who actually expected Vincent Rey to get paid $11.5 million over three years? It probably helped that Vontaze Burfict is suspended for the first three games of the 2016 season by the NFL. As a result, the Bengals wanted someone familiar and at least marginally productive to be available to fill in. Rey cashed out with a $1.7 million per year raise from his previous contract.
You could potentially make the argument that the Bengals overpaid Rey for the sake of security. But, I think he's worth the money to re-sign. Don't forget that he's led the team in tackles over the past two years and has only missed a single game since being promoted from the practice squad in Week 15 of the 2010 season. There haven't been many players more reliable than Rey in that time period, so I would definitely say that he's earned every penny.
Lamur became a winner in free agency by earning a deal that saw him leave the Bengals. That deal is a $6 million deal over two years that saw him reunite with former Bengals' defensive coordinator, Mike Zimmer. A year after Zimmer's departure from the team, Lamur signed a one year deal with the Bengals worth roughly $2.3 million. Combined with his $1.4 million undrafted rookie contract, that's a total of $3.7 million that he's made with the Bengals over his four year career with the team.
He's nearly doubled that with his new contract. It wasn't quite as large of a pay raise as Rey received with the Bengals, but it's still highly impressive for a player who many scouts in the 2012 draft didn't even look twice at. You've got to wish him the best as he moves on to a new opportunity, but you also have to admit that he's probably very happy with his agent.
This one seems obvious and, as I've said before, there's plenty of reason to not freak out. At this point, the Bengals have officially lost both Marvin Jones (Detroit) and Mohamed Sanu (Atlanta). While it's true that James Wright has the potential to step up and fill one of the open receiver roles fairly well, don't forget that there is plenty of talent available in the draft.
Now that we've got the disclaimer out of the way, let's revisit the issue of Bengals' wide receivers coach, James Urban, losing two incredibly talented receivers on his roster. The Bengals as an organization aren't really losers here because the two receivers combined will be getting paid roughly $14.5 million a year. For Jones, that's $8 million per year and, for Sanu, $6.5 million per year.
Given the presence of A.J.Green, Tyler Eifert, Giovani Bernard, Jeremy Hill, and a plethora of lesser used receivers, it doesn't really make sense for the Bengals to want to pay either player that much for the amount of production that they could possibly put up with the team. Jones and Sanu themselves definitely aren't losers as they both made very smart business decisions and are becoming millionaires with increased opportunities in other cities. The Falcons and Lions aren't losers either because they both signed very talented receivers to help bolster their teams.
Still, Jones and Sanu were incredible projects for Urban to have under his belt and he'll be able to use the experience he gained coaching them with future Bengals wide receivers. Ultimately, it could be a good thing as Urban will have the opportunity to work similar magic with whomever the Bengals find to replace the tandem. Still, he's probably the one loser in this whole situation.
The Bengals don't seem to be interested in bringing Reggie Nelson back. That's unfortunate on multiple levels. For one, he lead the league in interceptions last year (8). Replacing that level of production could be very tough for the team. On top of that, it's a rather unfortunate situation for Nelson who has already expressed his interest in returning to the team.
Unfortunately, in this league, money talks. In this case, the money went to George Iloka. On the same note, if the Bengals are genuinely not going to pursue Nelson, it could drastically drive down his market value. The simple principle of supply and demand will rear it's ugly head for an aging free safety who does not seem to be in high demand for the team that he performed so well with for the majority of his career.
He might still get picked up by the Vikings or someone looking for a quick fix at safety (the Browns just lost FS Tashaun Gipson). However, the fact that the Bengals aren't going to pursue him probably means that he won't be able to sign for his estimated market value of $4.8 million, according to Spotrac. Not only is he expected to not be signed by the team he wants to play with, but there's a good chance that his next contract could offer severely reduced pay.
Gillberry has a good chance of suffering from the issue of having virtually no buzz surrounding his free agent services. He bounced around between the Giants, Chiefs, and Buccaneers early in his career, but has found a home with the Bengals since 2012. Since arriving in Cincinnati, he has played in all but two games (starting all 16 in 2014), and has compiled 70 tackles, 17.5 sacks, and six passes defensed.
However, despite his production and experience as a starter, there haven't even been any rumors surrounding him talking to the Bengals or any other teams. The complete and total silence surrounding Gillberry is not a good sign for his potential to find a pay raise from the $2.1 million per year he was making with the Bengals since 2013. If anything, it could be a sign that he might need to settle for less going forward if he wants to continue playing.