Breaking Down the Contracts Needed to Re-Sign Each Cincinnati Bengals Free Agent

David CampbellContributor IFebruary 28, 2013

Breaking Down the Contracts Needed to Re-Sign Each Cincinnati Bengals Free Agent

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    Before the draft ever takes place, the first order of business for NFL teams is to take stock of their own free agents and determine which ones can—and will—be signed.

    For the Cincinnati Bengals that means 27 free agents, who are set to hit the streets when free agency starts March 12, need to be either re-signed or shown the door.

    The Bengals’ two biggest free agents are tackle Andre Smith and defensive end Michael Johnson, but there are several other intriguing free agents that could play a part in the team’s success this season.

    Let’s take a look at each free agent and determine what it will take for the Bengals to re-sign them in terms of both years and total money.

Josh Brown, K

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    Josh Brown was signed late last season after Mike Nugent’s injury and performed admirably with several big kicks, including the game-winner in the playoff clincher at Pittsburgh.

    Brown made a base salary of $800,000 last year and was working on a one-year deal. He will obviously get a raise but will likely make less than it would cost to re-sign Nugent.

    Estimated Salary: Two years, $5 million

Nate Clements, CB

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    Nate Clements has been a solid corner for the Bengals, but he made $4.3 million last year and the team is likely to try to get younger at the position. If he is re-signed it will be for less money and probably on a one-year deal.

    Estimated Salary: One year, $2.5 million

Chris Crocker, S

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    The Bengals cut Crocker during training camp but brought him back early in the season after injuries decimated the safety position.

    The Bengals are likely to target safeties in the draft, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see Crocker back in uniform, especially with the way he performed late in the season.

    Estimated Salary: One year, $2 million

Robert Geathers, DE

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    Geathers has been a stalwart on the defensive line for a decade. But it is obvious his time in Cincinnati has come to an end. It’s possible that the Bengals may re-sign him, but if so, it will be a major pay cut.

    Estimated Salary: One year, $3 million

Wallace Gilberry, DE

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    Gilberry was signed at midseason and ended up being third on the team in sacks. The Bengals would love to re-sign him but I’m betting he will get a lot of attention from other teams.

    Estimated Salary: Three years, $9 million

Bruce Gradkowski, QB

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    Gradkowski has seen little action in two years, a testament to how durable starter Andy Dalton has been. There is a question of whether the Bengals will try to re-sign Gradkowski or go with younger players to back up their starter.

    Estimated Salary: Two years, $3.6 million

Clark Harris, TE/LS

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    Harris serves as the team’s long snapper and last year made $1.26 million. That may seem like a lot, but considering the problems the Bengals had with snapping a few years ago, it seems like a small price to pay for the comfort of knowing that the ball will be where it needs to be.

    Estimated Salary: Two years, $3 million

Andrew Hawkins, WR

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    Hawkins burst onto the scene a year ago and could play a major role in the team’s future. The Bengals have exclusive rights to him, which means Hawkins is guaranteed at least a one-year, $550,000 contract. However, the Bengals may try to lock him for a few seasons.

    Estimated Salary: Three years, $3 million

Thomas Howard, LB

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    Howard and Manny Lawson came in a year ago and solidified the linebacker corps. But now it appears that the Bengals are going to revamp the position. Howard could be back but the Bengals won’t spend a lot of money on him.

    Estimated Salary: One year, $2 million

Kevin Huber, P

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    Huber has emerged as one of the best punters in the league and will demand a raise this season. The Bengals have typically balked at paying specialists too much money but with Huber, they may go for it.

    Estimated Salary: Three years, $9 million

Michael Johnson, DE

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    Johnson is one of two Bengals free agents (along with Andre Smith) who will be watched closely this season. Johnson had a monster year with 11.5 sacks and will likely be one of the top targets for many teams.

    If the Bengals decide to put the franchise tag on him it will cost the team just south of $11 million, a hefty price for the always frugal Bengals. A long-term contract may be the way to go, but will Cincy pull the trigger?

    Either way, Johnson is going to get a big raise.

    Estimated Salary: Five years, $65 million

Adam Jones, CB

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    While not the superstar predicted by many when he came out of college, Jones has developed into an above-average corner and a dangerous returner. Keeping him on the roster will be one of the Bengals’ primary goals.

    Estimated Salary: Two years, $2.5 million

Manny Lawson, LB

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    Lawson has been a solid player but his production hasn’t kept up with his salary. It’s doubtful that the Bengals will match what Lawson will get on the open market, although they would love to have his leadership back.

    Estimated Salary: Two years, $4 million

Brian Leonard, RB

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    Leonard has been a solid, if unspectacular, member of the team for several years and one of those guys who always seem to come up with one key play per game. Leonard cannot be counted on as a true backup but is unlikely to get much money and should be back.

    Estimated Salary: Two years, $2.2 million

Rey Maualuga, LB

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    Maualuga has been largely disappointing and it is assumed that the Bengals will let him walk. However, with Vontaze Burfict at middle linebacker, the Bengals could move Maualuga back outside and free the team from having to take a linebacker high in the draft.

    Estimated Salary: Three years, $3.2 million

Jeromy Miles, CB

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    Miles was used only sparingly and as a restricted free agent will be back with the Bengals if the team so chooses. The good news is that he won’t cost a lot of money, something that always appeals to Cincinnati.

    Estimated Salary: Two years, $1.3 million

Terence Newman, CB

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    Newman was a surprising addition to the Bengals this season and emerged as the team’s second-best corner after Leon Hall. While Newman is getting older and will likely get a big raise, look for him to be back in orange and black next season.

    Estimated Salary: One year, $2.4 million

Mike Nugent, K

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    Nugent has been a solid kicker for the Bengals but has also been injury-prone. It was an injury that forced the Bengals to sign Josh Brown. A salary of $2.665 million last year makes it unlikely that Nugent will be back unless the Bengals are unable to re-sign Brown.

    Estimated Salary: Two years, $5.2 million

Cedric Peerman, RB

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    Exciting and athletic, Peerman showcased his skills not only as a running back but as one of the Bengals’ top performers on special teams. As a restricted free agent, and with a manageable price tag, he should be back.

    Estimated Salary: Two years, $2.9 million

Richard Quinn, TE

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    Quinn was a seldom-used tight end who was on the roster for 15 games but never saw action. He is a restricted free agent and will be back if the Bengals so wish.

    Estimated Salary: One year, $800,000

Vincent Rey, LB

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    Like Andrew Hawkins, Rey is an exclusive-rights free agent and will be back if the Bengals want him. Rey proved to be a solid backup linebacker and special teams player and will be relatively cheap.

    Estimated Salary: One year, $1.1 million

Dennis Roland, T

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    Roland’s second year proved to be much better than his first and there is every reason to believe that he can be a solid backup tackle. He should also be very affordable.

    Estimated Salary: Two years, $1.9 million

Bernard Scott, RB

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    When healthy, Scott has been a valuable weapon who has been a big-time home run hitter. But Scott has rarely been healthy and has fought injury every year he has been in the league. The Bengals may be looking to draft a running back and Scott’s fate could be linked to that success.

    Estimated Salary: Two years, $2.2 million

Pat Sims, DT

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    Sims has largely been forgotten thanks to injury, but when healthy he is one of the Bengals’ best interior linemen. Sims may very well get plenty of looks in free agency and the Bengals could find themselves in a bidding war for his services.

    Estimated Salary: Two years, $4.5 million

Dan Skuta, LB

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    Whenever his name has been called, either at linebacker or on special teams, Skuta has answered and he has played solidly over the past several seasons. Skuta may be able to get more money elsewhere but the Bengals will probably try to re-sign him.

    Estimated Salary: Two years. $3.5 million

Andre Smith, T

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    The other big free-agent question mark for the Bengals (along with Michael Johnson), re-signing Smith should be the team’s priority in the offseason. While many fans still regard Smith as an overweight injured mess, the fact remains that he was graded by Pro Football Focus as the best right tackle in the game and he received votes for the All-Pro team.

    A franchise tag on Smith will cost the Bengals around $9.6 million, arguably cheaper than giving him a long-term contract.

    Estimated Salary: One year, $9.66 million (franchise tag)

Brandon Tate, WR

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    Tate started the season as a starter but ended the season on the bench. Tate also never lived up to his status an elite receiver. It’s unlikely that he will be back in Cincinnati but it wouldn’t cost the Bengals much to re-sign him.

    Estimated Salary: One year, $750,000