With all the hype surrounding Chad Ochocinco practicing with his teammates for the first time this offseason, the top story entering Tuesday's mandatory minicamp involved the Cincinnati Bengals and cornerback Johnathan Joseph.
Numerous reports emerged Tuesday how the Bengals had reached out to Joseph and his agent about negotiating a long-term contract extension.
The former first-round pick is entering the final year of his rookie contract and is expected to earn $885,000 in 2010.
Last season, Joseph and Leon Hall provided Cincinnati with arguably the top duo at cornerback in the NFL, playing a major role in the success of Mike Zimmer’s fourth-ranked defense. They each recorded six interceptions and helped the Bengals’ defense finish sixth overall by allowing just 203.1 yards per game through the air.
As long as both players manage to stay healthy, the dynamic duo should help the Bengals possess one of the top defenses once again during the 2010 season. The Bengals would love to keep both Joseph and Hall for the long run, but with both players in line for a big payday, doing so may be difficult.
Joseph’s contract is up after next season, but Hall’s deal keeps him in Cincinnati for at least two more years. As ridiculous as it seems to think about two years from now, the last thing the Bengals want to do is enter the 2011 season with neither Joseph or Hall on the roster—which seems to be the reason why they hope to at least reach a deal with Joseph as soon as possible.
By negotiating a long-term deal with Joseph, it guarantees the Bengals with at least one of their dynamic cornerbacks for years to come. Unfortunately, a long-term deal for Joseph may also determine how much effort Cincinnati puts towards keeping Hall around after the 2011 season.
Would they love to keep both players around if possible? Of course they would.
However, just because the front office wants to keep them both players around doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. If Cincinnati awards Joseph with a hefty long-term contract, Hall will most likely push for one as well once he inches closer to free agency—whether it’s with the Bengals or a different team.
Hopefully, Cincinnati can work out a deal with Joseph now and Hall when the time approaches. If not—well, at least there may be insurance after acquiring Adam Jones and Brandon Ghee during the offseason.
Dan Parzych is the Cincinnati Bengals Examiner for Examiner.com.
He is also the founder of WhoDeyBengals.com.
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