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What just happened? Recapping Week 1 of free agency for the Bengals

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The Bengals have been uncharacteristically active to begin free agency. Have the Bengals done enough to put themselves in position to be playoff contenders in 2018?

Houston Texans v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images

The Bengals have been uncharacteristically active so far this offseason. Unlike recent years, the team did not stand to lose a lot in free agency, and actually managed to make a few key signings. Let’s recap where things stand for the Bengals one week into the new league year.

Who’s out

In terms of loses, the Bengals’ offseason is going much better this year than it was last year. As expected, backup quarterback AJ McCarron and running back Jeremy Hill will not be returning. McCarron is currently on the top of the Bills’ depth chart, while Hill will join Rex Burkhead in the Patriots’ backfield committee. McCarron will be joined in Buffalo by long time starting center Russell Bodine. Bodine was favored by the Bengals staff, but had constant issues and was a pariah to fans. Chris Smith, who showed a lot of potential as a pass rusher last pre-season signed with the Browns. Offensive Linemen Andre Smith’s second tenure with the Bengals has come to a close as he will be heading to Arizona. None of these are really major loses. It would have been nice to see what Teryl Austin could have down with Chris Smith, but he — just like the others — is replaceable.

Who’s in

Before free agency even began, the Bengals brought in defensive tackle Chris Baker and offensive tackle Bobby Hart. Both are one-time high performers who have major boom or bust potential. Of course the biggest news for the Bengals so far this off-season is the acquisition of Cordy Glenn. Glenn was not a free agent, but the Bengals traded for the Bills’ former starting left tackle in hopes that he could anchor their line. Glenn is coming off an injury-shortened season, but if he can get back to his previous form he will be a steal for the Bengals. The Bengals also signed linebacker Preston Brown away from the Bills. Brown will fill the void at middle backer and is a major upgrade from what the team has had in recent years.

With McCarron off to Buffalo, the team decided to bring in Matt Barkley as the new backup quarterback. Barkley has had his ups and downs, but gives the team a backup quarterback with veteran experience.

Not much was heard about Tyler Eifert in the first couple days of free agency, but the Bengals managed to bring him back despite a competitive market. The next step is figuring out how to keep him healthy. Eifert gives the Bengals a dangerous receiving threat at the tight end position. This offense needs him on the field. Punter Kevin Huber also re-signed with the team for three more years.

Unsigned

The signing or Brown ensures that linebacker Kevin Minter will not return. The Bengals tried to let Eric Winston go last season, but with struggles and injuries on the offensive line they went back to him. In all likelihood he will gone for good this time. Defensive tackle Pat Sims and running back Cedric Peerman are also unlikely to return. The Bengals did not pick up cornerback Adam Jones’ contract option. If he cannot find any other suitors there is a chance they would bring him back. As of now, he remains unsigned with little buzz.

What is next?

The Bengals will most likely not make any more notable transactions until after the draft. They could still stand to add an offensive linemen or two as well as a safety. They lack depth at linebacker and are currently a little thin at defensive back, so these may be areas the team looks to address later on if they can’t solve these problems in the draft. The team’s No. 1 need with Bodine gone is likely center, but expect them to address that in the draft, too, not in the free agent market.

Bengals free agents 2018

Player Position Age 2017 Team 2018 Team 2018 Contract
Player Position Age 2017 Team 2018 Team 2018 Contract
Kevin Minter ILB 27 Bengals
Andre Smith G 30 Bengals Cardinals 2 years, $8 million with an additional $2.2 million in incentives
Kevin Huber P 32 Bengals Bengals 3-years, $7.95 million with incentives up to $8.75 million
Tyler Eifert TE 27 Bengals Bengals 1-year, up to $8 million
Cedric Peerman RB 31 Bengals
Eric Winston RT 34 Bengals
Pat Sims DT 32 Bengals
Jeremy Hill RB 25 Bengals Patriots 1-year, $1.5 million with only $150,000 guaranteed
Russell Bodine C 25 Bengals Bills 2-years, $10 million
Chris Smith DE 26 Bengals Browns 3 years, $12,000,000
AJ McCarron QB 27 Bengals Bills 2-years, $10 million with an additional $6.5 million in incentives
Adam Jones CB 34 Bengals