Buried amid the NFL’s largely non-contact all-star game was a little bit of news about Bengals tight end Jermaine Gresham. AFC Coach Gury Kubiak was impressed with the Bengals tight end and said he believes that Gresham could soon be a big-time player.
We’ve known it for a few years now. Now everyone else knows it too. The same goes for Cincinnati’s other Pro Bowlers, Geno Atkins, A.J. Green, and Andy Dalton.
What does it mean? It means that the Bengals need to start extending their impact players sooner rather than later. When Gresham and Atkins get close to free agency, their increased profile thanks to the Pro Bowl will drive their prices up. And we all know that Mike Brown isn’t a fan of high prices.
Thus, it makes sense for Cincinnati to take some of the team’s bountiful cash and the corresponding space under the salary cap (thank you Carson Palmer!), and start using it. The team got a head start by extending Kyle Cook, Andrew Whitworth, and Leon Hall last season. Gresham and Atkins should be up next.
If the team hopes to keep its emerging talent, it needs to pay the players earlier than everyone else. Because once free agency gets near, the Bengals lose their leverage and their players get more expensive.
Now is the time.
Lock ’em up.