Now that the offseason is in full swing for the Cincinnati Bengals, it is time to start looking at their own impending free agents. Before the NFL's free-agency period and the draft come around, re-signing their own players will become a top priority.
There are 12 Bengals currently slated to hit the free-agent market in 2014. Some of these players require very little money and could be re-signed to inexpensive contracts. Others will require a little more cash or even a franchise-tag designation.
Let's take a look at the Bengals' free agents heading into 2014 and determine their fate with the team.
Michael Boley, LB
Boley is a nine-year veteran who has been a recent contributor on Cincinnati's special teams. He came away with 10 total tackles in the 2013 season.
The 31-year-old linebacker made a total of $840,000 on a one-year contract with the Bengals in 2013. That's not a heavy price tag; however, he could easily be replaced with an incoming rookie this offseason.
Chris Crocker, S
Crocker, a 33-year-old veteran safety, was brought back to save the Bengals secondary once again in 2013 due to a rash of injuries. Now that Cincinnati is getting healthier and younger players are beginning to gain form, Crocker will most likely be the odd man out again.
However, if injuries were to strike again in 2014, we could very well see him back in stripes once more.
Brandon Ghee, CB
Ghee, a four-year veteran, has struggled with injuries since joining the Bengals in 2010. He has shown a tremendous upside when healthy, although, allowing him to continue to hold a roster spot despite his injury concerns may not be a good idea.
Even though the Bengals would be able to retain Ghee with an inexpensive contract, common wisdom says he will be on his way out.
Taylor Mays, S/LB
Mays' four-year rookie contract has now run out. He did not quite seem to be able to catch on at the safety position; however, he began to show some promise as a nickel linebacker.
Mays made $645,000 in 2013, and if the Bengals can keep him around for close to the same price tag, he may earn another shot with the team.
Michael Johnson, DE
Johnson played under the franchise tag in 2013. That designation earned him $11.175 million. Although he played well during the season, that price tag is simply too high to warrant keeping him around for another year—especially due to upcoming contract extensions for A.J. Green and others.
Vincent Rey, LB
Rey's one-year, $630,000 contract has expired, and he is set to hit the free-agent market this offseason. The Bengals will not allow that to happen.
Rey was a nice surprise for the Bengals, as he stepped in and recorded 57 total tackles, four sacks, one forced fumble, two interceptions and one touchdown. His play has earned him a nice contract with Cincinnati.
Anthony Collins, OT
Collins was solid when he took over for Andrew Whitworth at the left tackle position this season. He was given a positive-14.0 overall grade, according to Pro Football Focus (subscribers link).
Collins made $2.125 million in 2013, which is a fair salary based on his performance. Expect the Bengals to keep him around at the same price tag.
Andrew Hawkins, WR
Hawkins is set to be a restricted free agent in 2014. This means that the Bengals can place a tender on him, making it more difficult to acquire his services due to the required compensation.
Cincinnati could get away with a low tender on Hawkins; however, his explosiveness is well known and other teams could jump on the opportunity. If that happens, expect the Bengals to match an offer sheet.
Mike Pollak, OG
Pollak was brought in due to his ability to back up the right and left guard positions. He made just $780,000 in 2013, which is very inexpensive for quality depth on the offensive line. However, once Clint Boling is healthy again, Pollak could be a casualty of the numbers game.
Dennis Roland, OT
Roland is a big body, but a very inconsistent offensive tackle. He has been kept around for depth on the offensive line; although, with some promising youth developing on Cincinnati's practice squad, Roland's services will no longer be required.
Dane Sanzenbacher, WR
Sanzenbacher is another wide receiver who will be a restricted free agent in 2014. The Bengals have a healthy amount of depth at the wide receiver position and did not need Sanzenbacher's services much during the 2013 season. More than likely, they will put a low tender on him, and if an offer sheet is met, take the compensation.
Alex Smith, TE
Smith played a small role as a tight end with the Bengals in 2013 but was also used at times as a fullback.
His one-year, $905,000 contract is up, and his price tag may be a little too much to keep him around on such a limited role. Cincinnati will likely continue to develop Orson Charles, which makes Smith expendable.
All salary figures courtesy of Spotrac.com.
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