Joe Reedy put together an unofficial list of Bengals free agents for our viewing pleasure today. Here it is, courtesy of Reedy’s blog. Below are the guys I’d keep.
Exclusive Rights: Cedric Peerman and Vincent Rey – Both are good special teams players and Peerman has shown some ability as a running back as well. I’d like to see him get a few more opoortunities in the backfield.
Restricted: Clark Harris, Dan Skuta, and Chris Pressley – The first two are good special teamers and Pressley had a very good season as a blocking back. He should only get better as he gains experience.
Unrestricted: Anthony Collins, Jon Fanene, Kelly Jennings, Manny Lawson, Donald Lee, Reggie Nelson, Mike Nugent, and Pat Sims – Collins has been deserving of a starting role for a few years now. I still think the Bengals should put him at right tackle and move Andre Smith to left guard, but it won’t happen. I also doubt that Collins will want to return, given that he’s played well in limited opportunities, but been relegated to the bench. Jennings is not a spctacular corner, but I thought he was steady and he’s supposedly a high-character guy. I’ll take as many of those as I can get. Lee was effective as both a blocker and a receiver and I believe he earned a second season. Nelson isn’t overwhelming either, but he’s a good player to have until the team can get a better one via the draft or free agency. He shouldn’t be that expensive either. Mike Nugent was very solid until some late-season misses and he should be even better another year removed from his knee injury. And although the linebacking corps is overcrowded (Keith Rivers and Rodderick Muckelroy return and Dontay Moch may be ready to go next year), I think Manny Lawson’s ability to play the run should be worth the money it would take to keep him. To be honest, I’m not even sure who will start at the linebacking spots next season, but it can’t hurt to bring a bunch of people in and let them battle it out. Finally, I think Pat Sims’ value showed up once he was out of the lineup. Cincinnati’s run defense faded down the stretch and I think Sims was better than people realize. He’s a good gap-clogger and a nice complement to the speed of Geno Atkins. He should come fairly cheaply after an injury.
And there you have it. That’s my list but I’m certain the final free agent signings will be much different than my own. What’s abundantly clear is that Cincinnati’s roster is filled with so many talented players that some of them will easily get jobs with other teams.
That’s a good thing. But among all the signings, the most important – and perhaps most difficult ones – will be retaining the services of the coordinators, Mike Zimmer and Jay Gruden.
Both men have been linked to head coaching jobs – and if they leave, some of the progress the Bengals made this year could leave too.
So let me be the first to say: Zimmer and Gruden on our sideline in 2012.