NFL Free Agency: Updating Rumors and Buzz Surrounding the Cincinnati Bengals

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistMarch 16, 2013

The Cincinnati Bengals appear to be close to bringing back Rey Maualuga.
The Cincinnati Bengals appear to be close to bringing back Rey Maualuga.Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

For the Cincinnati Bengals, the 2013 NFL free-agency period has been similar to most in years past—quiet. 

Despite this, the rumors and buzz surrounding the Bengals continues to increase. Cincinnati still has a variety of important free agents to bring back, such as tackle Andre Smith and cornerback Adam Jones. It is also beginning to lose players on the market. 

Outside of their own players, the Bengals have been busy by lining up visits with free agents, but no major deals have been worked out just yet. 

Let's briefly update the latest buzz and news circling the Bengals as free agency charges onward. 


The Exodus from Cincinnati Continues

In recent days, the Bengals have seen more and more former players find homes throughout the league.

First to leave was former defensive tackle Pat Sims when he signed a deal with the Oakland Raiders, according to Aaron Wilson on Twitter. It was expected, as the team wants to see what it has in second-year players Devon Still and Brandon Thompson. 

Next up was linebacker and special teams ace Dan Skuta, who signed a two-year deal with the San Francisco 49ers (per Rotoworld). Skuta was arguably the team's best special teams player in terms of kick coverage, but he didn't appear to be a priority. 

Other players appear to be weighing their options, as several former Bengals have been visiting other teams. Linebacker Thomas Howard visited the Miami Dolphins, according to Ben Volin on Twitter. Howard was the team's best linebacker in 2011, but he was lost for the season early in 2012. 

Veteran cornerback Terence Newman visited the Oakland Raiders Thursday (per Matt Maiocco on Twitter) despite being identified by the front office as a priority this offseason. 


Number of Players Visiting Cincinnati Continues to Increase

As former players continue to seek new homes, more and more free agents continue to visit Cincinnati, bucking the trend that players usually avoid it as a possible destination. 

Quarterback Josh Johnson visited the team on Thursday and worked out with the coaching staff (per Jason La Canfora on Twitter). Johnson is an athletic player who has ties to offensive coordinator from their time spent together in Tampa Bay. Cincinnati is in search of a backup after losing Bruce Gradkowski, so it's not a surprising development. 

Perhaps the more surprising news was the report from Geoff Hobson on Twitter, saying that Ohio State product Ted Ginn worked out with the team as well. According to Hobson, the Bengals could be planning to enter contract negotiations with the elite punt and kick returner's agent soon. He would replace Brandon Tate as the team's return specialist. 

Finally, tight end Matt Spaeth visited the team (per Joe Reedy on Twitter), but he later signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers, according to Jeff Dickerson on Twitter


The Andre Smith Situation 

As predicted by many and the Bengals front office alike, Andre Smith has been generating almost no buzz on the open market despite putting it all together last season and playing at an elite level. As Jason La Canfora put it, his combination of weight and attitude issues have scared teams off. 

La Canfora hit the nail on the head, and it's nothing but good news for Cincinnati. The coaching staff knows Smith the best out of any, so they will end up paying him exactly what they think he is worth. 

According to Joe Reedy on Twitter, Marvin Lewis has said the team is working hard to get a deal ironed out with Smith as soon as possible. 

The snafu in the process right now is no fault of either side, but rather falls on the agent representing Smith (per Joe Reedy, Cincinnati Enquirer):

As for offensive tackle Andre Smith and cornerback Terence Newman, things are still going slowly due to other activity throughout the league. The agent both players is Ben Dogra, whose big client in free agency is offensive tackle Jake Long. Everyone thought that Long might be close to a deal with the Rams, but he left St. Louis without one on Friday.

Expect a deal to be worked out sooner rather than later, especially after Jake Long finally gets situated. 


Deals Incoming? 

Believe it or not, the Bengals may be close to getting some deals done with former players. The team has done a great job bringing back crucial players so far, but more could be on the way. 

According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, a deal with cornerback Adam Jones could be done in the next couple of days. It's a seriously important tidbit of information because Jones is crucial and quality depth at a position that has little of both at the moment. reports that a talks between the team and linebacker Rey Maualuga are going well. It won't be the most popular bit of news, but it is great news nonetheless. The Bengals' depth chart at linebacker is looking scary thin as of now, so getting Maualuga back is important. He excels when playing strong-side linebacker, which is where he is projected to be next season if brought back. 

It is clear the Bengals were serious about bringing back their own, as Maualuga and Jones join Terence Newman and Smith as players the Cincinnati front office are zeroed in on getting under contract soon. 


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