Bengals expected to be heavily involved in free agency


The Cincinnati Bengals' roster as currently constructed has more holes than a colander.

Could Mike Browns' team thwart the narrate his club is stingy in free agency in hopes of making a quick turnaround after compiling the worst record in the NFL in 2019?

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday that the Bengals are expected to be active in free agency.

"Some of the buzz that I picked up in Indianapolis (during the NFL Scouting Combine) is that it's really the opposite of what the narrative for the Bengals has been," Rapoport said on NFL Network's NFL NOW. "First of all, I would expect them to be involved in free agency, I'm not sure they're going to go and break the bank for the top, top guy but I would expect them to be heavily involved in the upper and middle class of free agents. They have got a lot of holes on the roster. They'd like to get better. There are certainly some players who would help that team really at all levels. I would expect the Bengals to be heavily involved."

Cincinnati currently has about $44 million in cap space, per Over The Cap, but could free up more room with potential roster moves, including moving on from Andy Dalton's $17.5 million contract.

Historically, the Bengals have spent more to hang onto their own players than delving into the free-agent market to bring in additional talent.

"Since 2011, the Bengals are right in the middle, 15th in spending," Rapoport noted. "Since 2013, they are 12th, so top half of the league in spending. And in 2016, they were actually sixth. So they may not go out and spend on other people's free agents but if you are a young player, a good player on their own team ... they will pay you. Part of the things that they're trying to talk to Joe Burrow about and part of the frustration they have with the national narrative."

The Bengals pay to keep their own players but rank 30th in guaranteed money handed out over the past five years, which generally is used to secure talent in free agency.

Aside from hanging on to A.J. Green by using the franchise tag if a long-term deal can't be struck, Cincinnati has other holes to fill. The Bengals need help across the offensive line to block for their soon-to-be rookie quarterback. The defense needs help at every level, including on the edge and linebacker.

Aside from upgrading the roster, the belief that the Bengals might loosen the pocket strings a bit in 2020 could make potential No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow much more comfortable heading to Cincinnati.