In a somewhat unsurprising development, the Bengals are not expected to place a franchise or transition tag on any of their free agents for the second consecutive season. The tag deadline is 4 PM Thursday. Among key free agents for the Bengals are Cedric Benson and Johnathan Joseph. Joe Reedy is reporting that the Bengals feel that placing a tag will be too expensive, as Joseph would cost around $14 million for one season while Benson would be around $9 million. You can read his article here. While financially this seems logical to not overpay these guys, it is still disappointing to let our young, emerging players leave via free agency. We have to do a better job of resigning guys before their contracts expire.
This is not the first time the Bengals have let a good, young player leave after their rookie contract expired. Back in 2007, the Bengals let Eric Steinbach leave as an unrestricted free agent and he immediately signed with the rival Cleveland Browns. While Benson seems like he might consider coming back based on some of his recent comments, Joseph will surely leave for greener pastures. Joseph, who turns 27 in April, was a first round pick of the Bengals in 2006. Losing Joseph will weaken our pass defense, and PacMan Jones will have to be counted on more heavily to contribute on the field and stay out of trouble off of it. The Bengals did spend a 3rd round compensatory selection on Brandon Ghee last season, and there are several intriguing prospects in the 2011 draft, including Patrick Peterson from LSU. With a rookie pay scale expected to be part of the next CBA agreement, the Bengals could make a habit of letting their emerging stars leave in favor of suddenly more affordable rookies.