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Bengals mailbag: Signs pointing to an active 2020 free agency for Cincinnati?

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A couple of facets lingering in the background could force the Bengals’ hand in free agency next year.

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For an 0-9 team, there certainly is a lot to talk about when it comes to the Cincinnati Bengals. Whether it’s in what’s ahead for them next offseason, an interesting individual player workout they are set to attend this Saturday, or the remaining seven games on the schedule, the team continues to grab national headlines.

When John Sheeran and I took the air for our OBI/Cincy Jungle listener/reader questions this Friday, we didn’t realize just how much Bengals fans have on their mind at the moment. Questions on what the team should do in the draft, futures of formerly-valuable veterans and the coaching staff were all part and parcel of the discussion.

As it goes with a winless team in mid-November, eyes are on the 2020 offseason. The NFL Draft is of utmost importance for the Bengals, as they stare at a No. 1 overall pick, but one of our callers asked us about the possibility of the team being more active in free agency than we might think.

The major inkling behind “John from Kentucky’s” gut feeling is because of the lingering attendance issues the Bengals are facing. There is no doubt that when the team is competitive, Queen City sports fans comprise a rabid fan base.

As we mentioned in the hypothetical draft trade situation earlier this week, Cincinnati is currently 31st in the NFL, in terms of average home attendance (46,354 per home game). The Los Angeles Chargers (25,385), who are currently holding home games in a soccer stadium, are the lone team behind the Bengals, in terms of attendance.

Aside from his own sound reasoning, we also found a couple of facets that, believe it or not, may point to an uptick from the Bengals’ usual springtime M.O. Namely in the element of high-priced veteran salaries potentially coming off of the books.

First up is Andy Dalton. For reasons that are both unknown and ones that can be conjectured, the team didn’t deal him at the 2019 trade deadline.

It’s very possible that Cincinnati deals him before the onset of either free agency or the draft, when teams get trigger happy. It would cost the Bengals nothing against their cap in a deal, while saving roughly $17.5 million in overall space (per Spotrac).

On Friday, the Bengals made the tough decision to place Dre Kirkpatrick on Injured Reserve with a knee issue. While he’s been a solid player for the Bengals over the years, he’s entering his ninth season with an $11.25 million cap number in 2020. And, while it’s not the end-all, be-all of stats for NFL cornerbacks, Kirkpatrick has just one interception since 2017, or 34 games.

Both of these moves, potential and actual, could free up substantial space for an impact veteran. To boot, Cincinnati made the uncharacteristic move of releasing Preston Brown midway in the first season of a lucrative three-year deal.

And, in a twist that is so Bengals, the team missed out on the free agency steal of the year in Shaquil Barrett. Cincinnati pulled an offer off the table after their crack medical staff stated the edge defender wasn’t healthy enough to earn that deal.

He has 11.5 sacks, an interception and four forced fumbles in nine games this year with the Buccaneers.

When Zac Taylor was hired this offseason, Bengals owner Mike Brown noted that he “heard the fans”, in terms of a lack of attendance in recent years. It has only gotten worse this year, as a “New Dey” turned to blase.

The surprising move on Brown has some thinking that Taylor is gaining the type of sway Marvin Lewis gained over the course of 16 years. We’ll see if and when he has a big chunk of cap space to potentially play with next spring.

Other topics we discussed this week:

  • A “should they/shouldn’t they?” chat on the Bengals and Colin Kaepernick.
  • What does the future hold for offensive line coach Jim Turner and how much of the issues on the line are attributed to his coaching?
  • Speaking of line play, why did it take seven-plus games for the Bengals to properly commit to the run and call plays conducive to Joe Mixon’s success?
  • What’s the deal with Cordy Glenn and A.J. Green?
  • Does a scenario that exists where Andy Dalton starts at quarterback in 2020, and in a Jon Kitna-like mentorship with a rookie?

If you couldn’t hang with us this time, be sure to join us for the live recordings and submit your questions to us a number of ways. Add them to comment sections, send them in the Facebook and YouTube live chats, email us at theobinsider@gmail.com and/or via Twitter @BengalsOBI. You can also shoot us a call or text at (949) 542-6241.

If you’re unable to join us live for here at Cincy Jungle or YouTube every episode, all Orange and Black Insider content is available here on CJ, the Stitcher, Spotify, iHeart Radio and Google Play Music apps, our YouTube channel, as well as through Megaphone and, as always, on iTunes! You can tweet us @BengalsOBI or get in touch with us via email at theobinsider@gmail.com. Thanks for listening and go subscribe to our channels!