The Cincinnati Enquirer's Paul Dehner, Jr. told us that he believes that the Bengals won't be able to keep Anthony Collins and Michael Johnson. He's right. Before we get to that, let's review what we know at this point.
BENGALS: Save for announcing that they've re-signed offensive guard Mike Pollak, the Bengals are making a handful of introductory calls to potential backup players. Don't bank on them signing anyone until well after free agency starts on Tuesday. They've developed a keen sense on ensuring that the market sets the value for players... not the agents.
In reality, nothing has changed with Cincinnati's free agency tactics. The Bengals wants to re-sign their own -- a successful philosophy that dates back to 2013. According to Bengals.com, the team has "interest in re-signing their own backups, such as wide receiver Brandon Tate, safety Taylor Mays, and cornerback Brandon Ghee."
Cincinnati is also faced with contract negotiations for linebacker Vontaze Burfict, wide receiver A.J. Green, quarterback Andy Dalton, and re-worked deals with defensive tackle Domata Peko and offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth.
MICHAEL JOHNSON: The Philadelphia Eagles held some interest in Johnson at first, but according to recent reports, that interest has completely diminished.
Two Philly beat writers, independently using their own sources, said that Johnson won't be going to Philadelphia this year. One belief is that, based on negotiations with other teams, Johnson's price range is too much for the Eagles.
The Minnesota Vikings remain clear-cut favorites for landing Johnson but there are at least five additional unnamed teams that are talking with Johnson's agent -- including teams that are using a base 3-4 defense.
At least 6 teams should be involved. MT @GoesslingESPN: #Vikings have called to express interest on Bengals DE Michael Johnson, too.— Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) March 8, 2014
But if you're hoping that Johnson comes back to Cincinnati, you might as well ditch that notion.
#Vikings have called to express interest on Bengals DE Michael Johnson, too. Told he's not going back to Cincy.— Ben Goessling (@GoesslingESPN) March 8, 2014
The connection of Johnson to Minnesota has made sense ever since former Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer became the Vikings' head coach.
Here's where the rumor mill of free agency is at it's best though. Literally about 15 minutes before Goessling's report hit social media, Bengals.com editor Geoff Hobson wrote a piece that re-iterated Cincinnati's desire to keep Johnson.
ANTHONY COLLINS: Any news concerning Collins is based on reports concerning other players and teams. Eugene Monroe, unlikely to return to the Baltimore Ravens, is headed to free agency. The Miami Dolphins have inquired about four offensive linemen, including Monroe.
The other three are Jared Veldheer, Rodger Saffold and Brandon Albert, who might be their top target (read, 2013).
Their reported plan is to have Safford as a guard while the Dolphins would pick between Veldheer, Albert and Monroe. Collins hasn't been rumored with Miami Saturday. Of course that could change at any moment.
There are no rumors going around about it yet, but if Albert signs with the Dolphins, Collins could be in play in Arizona.
Many executives and scouts view Collins as an average run blocker, but a superb pass blocker. Despite NFL teams always needing quality left tackles in pass protection, it's dinging Collins a little bit.
ANDREW HAWKINS: There is very real smoke coming out of New York that the Jets may try to sign Hawkins to an offer sheet and hoping that the Bengals decline (Cincinnati receives no compensation).
Regardless, teams have until May to move forward on restricted free agents -- we're not expecting much movement on this this weekend. We should still keep our ears to the ground because these things can happen without a moment's notice.
VINCENT REY: There's a theory that Rey could be in the mix for the Minnesota Vikings, based on his connection with former Bengals defensive coordinator. The situation mirrors Hawkins as a restricted free agent and the timing of it if anything moves.
Anthony Cosenza contributed to this report.