Another year, another opening round playoff loss for head coach Marvin Lewis and quarterback Andy Dalton. They'll both be back for at least another season. The Bengals have the cap space to fill a couple of needs, although whether they spend that money is another question. For yet another season, the Bengals' needs match the strengths of the NFL Draft class.
Updated Jan. 14
Projected Salary Cap Space (via Spotrac):
1. Defensive tackle: Domata Peko has struggled lately. Cutting him would save $3.7 million. Backups Brandon Thompson and Devon Still weren’t anything special last season.
2. Defensive end: The combo of Robert Geathers and Wallace Gilberry wasn’t great. They aren’t paid that much, but cutting the aging Geathers and Gilberry would save just over $5 million. The team has some intriguing players in Will Clarke and Margus Hunt, but they are unproven.
3. Wide Receiver: Everyone saw what happened when A.J. Green couldn't play. Getting Marvin Jones back should help, in theory. Spending a high pick on the spot makes sense. A.J. Green has one year left on his deal, so he needs a new contract.
4. Middle linebacker: Rey Maualuga is a free agent. Vontaze Burfict could shift inside if the Bengals let Maualuga walk, but Burfict battled injuries and that would thin the depth outside. Plus, Maualuga was the only Bengals top LB, per Pro Football Focus.
5. Offensive guard: Clint Boling is a free agent.
6. Offensive tackle: Marshall Newhouse was so bad as a swing tackle that the team signed Eric Winston off the streets. Both are free agents. Winston played well, but could be looking for a starting gig. If that is the case, a new backup tackle is needed.
7. Quarterback: The Bengals are committed to Andy Dalton (there aren’t any better options available anyway), but backup Jason Campbell is a free agent.
8. Tight end: Jermaine Gresham and Alex Smith are free agents. The Bengals don’t need Gresham, who often draws the ire of fans, and should give the reins to Tyler Eifert full-time. FB Ryan Hewitt showed a ton of potential as an H-Back, but another TE is needed if Gresham leaves.
9. Kicker: Mike Nugent is a free agent.
10. Cornerback: Terence Newman is a free agent, but if Dre Kirkpatrick plays like he did against Denver, the Bengals don’t need another corner. Cincinnati also has Darqueze Dennard waiting in the wings.
Potential Cap Casualties:
DT Domato Peko: potential savings of $3.7 million
DE Robert Geathers: potential savings of $3.05 million
*All figures via Spotrac
QB Jason Campbell
RB Cedric Peerman
WR Brandon Tate
WR Dane Sanzenbacher
TE Kevin Brock (RFA)
TE Jermaine Gresham
TE Alex Smith
OT Marshall Newhouse
OT Eric Winston
OG Clint Boling
DT Devon Still (RFA)
OLB Emmanuel Lamur (RFA)
MLB Rey Maualuga
CB Chris Lewis-Harris (ERFA)
CB Terence Newman
S Taylor Mays
K Mike Nugent
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