Now that all but one of the Bengals' free agents have either re-signed or left to take deals elsewhere, we'll begin hearing some of the backstories in how they either left or stayed.
In the case of Leon Hall, it turns out he may not sign a new deal at all, at least anytime soon. In a recent radio interview with ESPN 1530 (and CJ alum James Rapien), Bengals radio announcer Dave Lapham revealed some very interesting news regarding Hall.
When asked about Hall's free agency, Lapham revealed that Hall underwent back surgery this offseason, which explains why there's been little-to-no market for his services.
"Leon Hall obviously is not the player physically he (once) was," Lapham said. "He's had back surgery. He had it right after the season. He really stepped it up and played (this past season). He was getting epidurals to play with the back problem that he had, and he's had the disc surgery, and he's gotta rehabilitate from that."
Lapham later went on to say he wouldn't be surprised if Hall retires this offseason, or if the Bengals ultimately end up re-signing him. Whatever happens, this revelation shows just how much of a warrior Hall has been for the Bengals and how much he's given them, even if it wasn't always great.
That was evident this past season when Hall struggled at times, but now knowing what he was going through just to play, it really should just make Bengals fans more endearing to him instead of slamming him as much as they did last season.
As for another key Bengals free agent defensive back, Reggie Nelson is now gone after signing a modest deal with the Raiders. However, Lapham said the Bengals offered Nelson essentially the same deal they gave Iloka without as much guaranteed money and as many years. The problem there was Nelson's agent was pushing for more guaranteed money that the Bengals simply wouldn't commit it to the 32-year-old safety.
I'm not sure if this speaks more to how good of a deal the Bengals got with Iloka, or how much they valued Nelson in this defense. Iloka was eventually re-signed to a five-year, $30-million contract that's paying one of the better safeties in football a mere $6 million per year. It's unfortunate Nelson was willing to pass on a similar deal to play for the Raiders, but in the end, the Bengals are winners here as Iloka has a longer career ahead of him.
As for the upcoming NFL draft, Lapham admitted he thinks the Bengals take one receiver early and possibly two in the whole draft. However, Lap does not think this is big enough of a need that they'll force it, saying "They are not gonna reach one spot to take a wide receiver in the first round."
And regarding the Bengals' offensive line, Lapham actually thinks that second-year lineman Jake Fisher is so versatile that he could end up being a starting guard within the next two seasons. Lapham compared Fisher to former Bengals Pro Bowl guard Eric Steinbach.