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NFL free agency 2018: Top linebackers set to hit the open market

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The Bengals have tried to fill in the gap at inside linebacker through free agency before. Will they try again this offseason?

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New York Giants v Oakland Raiders Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Marvin Lewis has expressed interest in being more active in free agency this offseason, and that could be helpful considering spending big in free agency is something the Bengals almost never do.

The Bengals “starting from scratch” could include several additions from other teams. While we shouldn’t expect the team to be a top spender, the Bengals should have a little over $30 million in cap space with only a few of their own free agents in need of being retained.

Today we will look at the linebacker position. This season,Vontaze Burfict spent plenty of time injured or suspended, and players like Kevin Minter, Nick Vigil and Vincent Rey spent long periods out of the lineup as well.

Despite seeing a bunch of players filling in at the position, no one stood out as a potential starter for next season. The linebackers were probably the weakest link of the whole defense, so we shouldn’t be surprised to see the Bengals go after at least one of these players who are set to hit free agency in 2018.

Keep in mind, these players still may end up getting franchise tagged or re-signed by their respective teams before free agency opens in March.

NaVorro Bowman (Raiders)

Bowman was cut from the 49ers in October and picked up by the Raiders. He didn’t have the most consistent season, but he is still one of the better options from this year’s class. He finished the season as the 10th best linebacker according to Pro Football Focus.

It would be a long shot for the Bengals to sign him, and since he has hit the 30-year-old mark some teams may want to avoid him.

Demario Davis (Jets)

Davis had a very good season with the Jets after he was traded back to the team by the Browns. Still, Davis may still have to prove he can perform at a high level consistently before a team offers him a long-term deal. The Bengals could be that team to offer him a decent one-year deal to prove his worth for next year like they did with Kevin Minter this season.

A lot of things will need to go in the Bengals’ favor to add Davis, and . odds are he will stay with the Jets.

Mason Foster (Washington)

Foster dealt with a torn labrum last year, and it really affected his performance. Washington may not be able to retain a player like Foster if they give a big long-term deal to Kirk Cousins, so it could be the perfect opportunity for the Bengals to pounce on a good player who hits free agency after a disappointing season.

Avery Williamson (Titans)

Williamson has really made a name for himself during the past few years. He has played really well against the run, and at 26-years-old he is one of the younger possibilities for the Bengals to go after in free agency. He has one issue that will make every Bengals fan groan though, and that is that he struggles in coverage at times.

Considering how young Williamson is, and how important he has been to the Titans defense, it is doubtful they will let him walk away. Especially since the Titans will have more than $50 million in cap space to work with.