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What the Bengals’ cap space looks like after free agency

All eight of the Bengals’ free agent signings have officially been announced by the team. Let’s see where they stand in terms of salary cap space.

Carolina Panthers v Houston Texans Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

D.J. Reader was the first free agent the Cincinnati Bengals agreed to terms with, but his contract was the last to become public.

$53 million over four years is the totality of Reader’s contract, but the signing bonus of $16.25M prorated over the length of the deal and a 2020 cap hit of $10.06M were crucial details in determining just how much the Bengals spent this offseason.

Before we look at that and how much cap space they have left, let’s look at what they saved beforehand.

A few days before free agency tampering began, the Bengals kicked things off by releasing Cordy Glenn. The inevitable move created $9.5M in cap space, but it wasn’t the only move of its kind. The releases of B.W. Webb ($3.6M cap space created), John Miller ($2.7M), and Dre Kirkpatrick ($8.3M) soon followed Glenn, and all moves became official before any of their free agent acquisitions.

Because of this, the Bengals’ cap space went from about $46M to just over $70M before that number started shrinking. Here’s how it shrunk:

Bengals 2020 Free Agency Signings

D.J. Reader 26 ID HOU 4 $53,000,000 $16,250,000 $10,062,500
Trae Waynes 28 CB MIN 3 $42,000,000 $15,000,000 $10,000,000
Vonn Bell 26 SAF NO 3 $18,000,000 $3,000,000 $5,000,000
A.J. Green 32 WR CIN 1 $17,971,000 $0 $17,971,000
Xavier Su'a-Filo 29 G DAL 3 $9,000,000 $1,000,000 $2,020,833
Mackensie Alexander 27 CB MIN 1 $4,000,000 $1,500,000 $3,953,125
Josh Tupou 26 ID CIN 1 $2,133,000 $0 $2,133,000
Brandon Wilson 26 SAF CIN 1 $2,133,000 $0 $2,133,000
Cethan Carter 27 TE CIN 1 $2,133,000 $0 $2,133,000
Alex Redmond 25 G CIN 1 $2,133,000 $0 $2,133,000
LeShaun Sims 27 CB TEN 1 $1,700,000 $250,000 $1,681,250
Josh Bynes 31 LB BAL 1 $1,600,000 $0 $1,600,000
Torry McTyer 25 CB CIN 1 $875,000 $25,000 $875,000
Mike Thomas 26 WR LAR 1 $850,000 $0 $775,000
Greg Mabin 26 CB CIN 1 $825,000 $0 $825,000

In total, this is:

  • $158,353,000 in total spending through 2023
  • $37,025,000 in signing bonuses that will be paid up front
  • $63,295,708 in 2020 cap space utilized

The signing bonus money is what the Bengals truly care about, as it represents the true guaranteed portion of the contracts. Reader and Trae Waynes have roster bonuses due to them days after the 2021 league year begins, but that’s guaranteed money in name only.

Still, the Bengals have to comply to the salary cap all year long and couldn’t eclipse the rough $70M mark. As of right now, per, the Bengals have $7,766,644 in 2020 salary cap space. This is counting for A.J. Green signing his franchise tag, and Brandon Wilson, Cethan Carter, and Josh Tupou signing their tender offers as well. Alex Redmond signed his yesterday.

Technically, the Bengals’ eight free agent signings from other teams can be voided if they fail their future physicals. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, player physicals have become much harder to orchestrate, so verbiage in the contracts were added to make the deals official without the requirement of a physicals beforehand. Eventually, the Bengals will find out if their new players passed or failed, hopefully the former.

So there you have it. The Bengals have less than $10m in cap space remaining just two weeks before the NFL Draft begins. The Bengals’ draft pool is roughly $12M, but draft picks are given a placeholder value of $610,000 until they sign their rookie deals and most become included in the top 51 offseason rule. This means the Bengals can technically fit Andy Dalton’s contract on the books for the time being, but don’t count on him staying for long.

Expect the draft to be where the Bengals attempt to trade Dalton once more. If nothing happens, his release soon after should be expected. Once his contract is off of the books, the Bengals will be in a more comfortable spot to sign any emergency free agents over the summer or intriguing players off of the waiver wire.