It's now official:
@Bengals have extended tender offers to WR Andrew Hawkins,LB Vincent Rey, and WR Dane Sanzenbacher, making them Restricted Free Agents.— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) March 5, 2014
"This is part of the yearly process to help us retain our core of good young players," said head coach Marvin Lewis. "Andrew, Vinny and Dane have earned the opportunity to look at the market, but we want them back with us. They are certainly in our plans."
The Cincinnati Bengals entered free agency with only three restricted free agents: Linebacker Vincent Rey and wide receivers Dane Sanzenbacher and Andrew Hawkins.
The Bengals have tendered all three with the lowest original-round tender worth $1.431 million.
#Bengals have tendered 3 RFAs -- WR Andrew Hawkins, LB Vincent Rey and WR Dane Sanzenbacher -- all at the low ($1.431M) level.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 4, 2014
Per the rules regarding restricted free agents, the Bengals have three qualifying levels of compensation that they could have applied. The maximum tender has a compensation level $3.113 million, which includes a first-round pick if another team signs that player to an offer sheet and the Bengals refuse to match. The second-level tender has a compensation level of $2.187 million with a second-round pick.
However, Cincinnati applied the lowest tender, which means original round compensation with a $1.431 million tender. Original round is based on where that player was originally drafted into the NFL -- since all three were undrafted free agents, the Bengals would receive no compensation if any three were to sign an offer sheet and Cincinnati decides not to match.
Teams have until May 2 to sign a tendered restricted free agent to an offer sheet.
We had originally projected Rey and Sanzenbacher as original-round tenders with Hawkins getting the second-round package.
This is a bit of cat-and-mouse game. We're expecting that the Bengals will match any offer sheet for Hawkins and maybe Rey. Whether or not another team submits an offer sheet, which the player signs, is the remaining question.