NFL transactions have slowed to a trickle even though it’s been less than three weeks since free agency began March 14.
Most of the deals are done at a furious pace in the opening 48 hours, but there are still some good players on the market, many of which play positions the Cincinnati Bengals are likely to target in the NFL Draft later this month.
But it’s been five years since the Bengals signed a player who wasn’t with them the previous year in April and saw that player make a meaningful contribution (cornerback Terence Newman, offensive lineman Mike Pollack and linebacker James Harrison all were April signings in 2013).
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Since then the list of April signings has been underwhelming, including Danieal Manning and Sam Montgomery in 2014, Josh Johnson and Denarious Moore in 2015 and Taylor Mays in 2016.
Although Brandon LaFell was a March 31 signing in 2016, and the Bengals obtained Chris Smith in a trade with Jacksonville on April last year.
For Bengals fans holding out hope that the team can add another key piece before the draft, here are some of the top remaining free agents at positions where the team could use some help.
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2017 team: New Orleans Saints
2017 salary: $5.7 million in the club-option fifth season of his four-year, $9.4 million rookie contract.
The skinny: Ranked 25th on NFL.com’s list of Top 101 free agents, Vaccaro never quite lived up to his first-round draft status (No. 15 overall). He moved from safety to slot corner in 2017 and had a career-high three interceptions and a fumble recovery despite playing just 12 games before a groin injury ended his season.
2017 team: San Francisco 49ers
2017 salary: $5.7 million in the club option fifth year of his four-year, $8.5 million rookie contract.
The skinny: His decision to kneel alongside Colin Kaepernick seems to have more to do with the fact he remains unsigned than anything else, although injury concerns are likely part of the equation for the 2013 first-round pick (18th overall). Reid has had multiple concussions, a torn biceps and a PCL sprain and has missed 12 games the last two years.
2017 team: Oakland Raiders
2017 salary: $2.6 million in a one-year deal signed in October last year.
The skinny: Bowman has been an impact player since entering the league as a third-round pick in 2010, as evidenced by the four-year, $42 million contract he signed with San Francisco in 2016 before being cut. His strength is in attacking the run, as evidenced by the improvement of the Raiders rush defense after his mid-season arrival last year, but he’s also had a string of injuries and the Bengals’ addition of Preston Brown almost certainly removes Bowman from the conversation in Cincinnati.
Position: Defensive tackle
2017 team: Kansas City Chiefs
2017 salary: $8 million in a one-year deal.
The skinny: A third-round pick in 2013, Logan had four solid seasons in Philadelphia leading to a big payday with the Chiefs last year. He’s not an effective pass rusher but is tremendous against the run, which is exactly the type of player the Bengals are looking to line up alongside Geno Atkins. But there will be younger and cheaper options available in the draft.
2017 team: San Diego Chargers
2017 salary: $900,000 in a one-year deal.
The skinny: A fourth-round pick of Carolina in 2014, Boston never developed the way the Panthers had hoped and was allowed to walk in 2017. He signed a one-year, “prove it” deal with the Chargers and did just that, recording five interceptions and eight passes defended while starting 15 games. That performance coupled with his low price tag would make Boston a great fit for a Bengals defense looking to create more turnovers.
Position: Defensive tackle
2017 team: Indianapolis Colts
2017 salary: $3 in the first season of a three-year, $27 million contract.
The skinny: The Colts move to a 4-3 defense under a new coaching regime meant Hankins no longer fit, and was cut. The Ohio State product is an excellent run stopper who also can get to the quarterback with 12 sacks in four seasons. He’s one of the top players who remain unsigned, but is probably priced out the Bengals budget.
Other top remaining free agents: Bashaud Breeland, cornerback; Adrian Peterson, running back; Kony Ealy, defensive end; DeMarco Murray, running back; Jordan Matthews, wide receiver; Derrick Johnson, linebacker; Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, cornerback; Eric Decker, wide receiver; Tyvon Branch, cornerback; Jerrell Freeman, linebacker.
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