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Salary Cap Status

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I did some research and it looks like we have about $2.3 million under the cap after accounting for Hardy's release and the rookie pool which was also announced today.

Signing Braham would cost about $1mm. Given the dearth of affordable talent available on the free agent market, I'd use the money to extend some of the veterans like Willie, Levi, and Steinbach. Where would you use this cash?

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Extending Levi Jones or Justin Smith is attractive simply due to their youth and the staggering cost of the alternative if no deal gets done. Franchise tagging players who play their positions is the stuff of many teams worst case scenarios and in each example it's hard to justify due to solid but unspectacular play. But these are the two players I'd try hardest to extend if that's how the cap space is to be used.

That said, I wouldn't make any phone calls to anyones agent until as late as mid season.

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Hobson had an article a couple days ago pretty much announcing the Hardy cut in advance and saying he thought the cap savings would be used to extend an offensive lineman contract.

If the cap # is right there at $1.3 under w/ the rookie pool, Hardy cut, and Braham re-signing, that proly won't be enough to extend Big Willie, Levi, or Steinbach. The Natester will free up another $1.5 mill when he's cut after June 1 and a P-Dub cut after June 1 would free another $3 mill.

Get close to $6 mill and somebody gets a pay day boost. Big Willie's making enough now that a restructure might actually save capwise this year but the last time it came up it sounded like he wanted bigtime LT money. Levi's gonna want LT money too and the statements that Big Stacy is switching from RT to LT makes me wonder how high Levi is on the list for an extension.

I'd say extend Steinbach first then see how Big Stacy progresses before trying to extend Levi. Big Willie is worth a restructure if it can fit.

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A little early to pencil in the savings from PDub's contract, IMHO. But I'd like to see Willie tied up for the rest of his career, and I doubt it would cost much, considering his willingness to restructure to get Rudi back.

And at the risk of channelling Mike Brown, I'd like to save some room for next off-season, just in case a stud TE comes on the market. Or one of our diamonds-in-the-rough sets the league on fire. Throw in PDub's and Kitna's cap money and you'd have quite a nest egg.

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If P-Dub isn't cut after June 1, contract extensions would be more limited.

Levi, Big Willie, Steinbach, and Justin are all under contract through the 2006 season so it seems likelier that the younger players -- Levi and Steinbach -- would be the ones to get longer term contracts, say 6-year deals.

Extending Steinbach in the neighborhood of Joe Andruzzi's contract this year at about $2.25 mill per is gonna add at least $1 mill to his cap in 2005. (6yr-$14 mill w/ $3 mill SB).

Jones is gonna cost. A 6yr-$30 mill deal w/ $10 mill to sign should up his cap in 2005 by around $3 mill.

Big Willie is already a 2005 cap hit around $5 mill. Anything like 4 yrs-$16 mill w/ a $8 mill SB would be good for him and shave another $1 mill of this year's cap....If he'll do it.

Justin would proly fetch a deal similar to Levi. I'm of the mind to let Justin play out at this point and let him strive for whatever performance incentives for sacks and tackles are in his contract.

One contract term that all the sudden becomes a cap factor whether this year or next are the performance incentives that are tied to the Bengals reaching the post-season. Let's hope it becomes a factor anyway :D

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