The Bengals have a decent amount of salary-cap space but have defined their offseason by watching some of their most talented players walk in free agency.
Outside of the Dre Kirkpatrick re-signing, players have seen valued teammates like Kevin Zeitler and Andrew Whitworth sign big-money deals with new teams. Running back Rex Burkhead was the latest to leave on a bargain basement deal with the Patriots, which might have sparked the following tweet from Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap.
I don't see the plan but guess that's not my role to either.â Carlos Dunlap (@Carlos_Dunlap) March 14, 2017
While it's easy to criticize teams from afar, it's hard not to understand Dunlap's frustration with the front office this winter. A year after watching Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones depart to playoff and Super Bowl teams, they are witnessing a similar exodus without much of a reaction from owner Mike Brown and his personnel staff.
The Bengals have drafted and developed well over the years, but with so much mounting pressure on coach Marvin Lewis, it's surprising to see them take such a laissez-faire approach to the open market. This team has one of the most affordable quarterback contracts in the NFL (among high-profile starters) and should be using the savings to push the Bengals over their perennial hump. Instead, they are making this a development year for young offensive linemen.
Brown's teams have performed relatively well in the face of pitchforks before, but this feels like a new place for the franchise after dropping to just six wins a year ago.