The Cincinnati Bengals don’t typically make much noise on the free agency market. The team tends to focus on bringing back its own players, rather than emphasizing outside moves. However, there are times when a player like Kevin Zeitler is simply going to be too expensive for the Bengals to even bother trying to re-sign.
It is a strategy that can be frustrating at times, but it is one that the Bengals have proven they are sticking with. Surprisingly, both for the team and fans, 11-year veteran and former second round draft pick Andrew Whitworth also got away. So while the Bengals typically like to lock up their own players in free agency, two of their best guys signed with new teams this week.
Through the first days of free agency in 2017, here's what's gone on in Bengaldom:
The Bengals still need to figure out what is happening with Domata Peko, Cedric Peerman, Margus Hunt, Wallace Gilberry, Chykie Brown, and Rex Burkhead. But, the majority of their most important free agents are already out of the way and ready to focus on playing football again, whether it be for the Bengals or another team.
So far, Bengals fans have mixed emotions about the players the team was able to re-sign, as well as the guys who got away. You have to question the logic of allowing both Whitworth and Zeitler to leave. The Bengals had enough problems on the offensive line in 2016 and it seems unlikely that the unit will improve in 2017 with both of their only consistently good starters no longer with the team.
In respect to Zeitler’s contract, it was hard to see the Bengals justifying bringing him back. He is one of the best guards in the NFL, but the Bengals simply didn’t allocate the necessary funds to their free agency pool. Even if they had decided to let Kirkpatrick walk in the interest of bringing Zeitler back, the team still would have needed to reallocate its budget, and then there would be little room left (based on what the Bengals seem to want to spend) for any of the remaining free agents.
It is particularly unfortunate that the Bengals were not able to re-sign Whitworth, as they could have brought him back in lieu of Kirkpatrick and still had plenty of money left over for other key free agents. But, that isn’t how things worked out, and now Bengals fans will have to get used to seeing Whitworth in blue, white, and gold in 2017.
Personally, I would give the Bengals a ‘C’ for the first 24 hours of free agency. Returning Kirkpatrick, LaFell, and Winston were wins for the team. But, it would have been nice if they could have justified bringing back at least one key offensive lineman. It would have been a lot of money to shell out, and they may have other plans for that money, but the losses are going to be big blows to the Bengals' ability to compete on offense in 2017.
What do you think, Bengals fans? How well did the Bengals do in the first 24 hours of free agency? Let us know in the poll and tell us your thoughts in the comments!