Most people are expecting the Bengals to be aggressive in free agency this offseason.
They have a potential star quarterback in Joe Burrow, other talented young players like Jessie Bates, Tee Higgins and Joe Mixon, plus they'll have at least $40 million in cap space.
That number could jump to somewhere in the $60-65 million range if they move on from veterans like Geno Atkins, B.J. Finney and Bobby Hart.
Despite the push for Cincinnati to be aggressive in free agency like they were last offseason when they committed $95 million to Reader and Trae Waynes, one national analyst is skeptical about the Bengals' willingness to spend in free agency again this offseason.
"We do see the Bengals spend big from time to time on strangers to the organization, but overall the team has a long-standing reputation of being extremely careful with money and they may be looking for some bargains in free agency," Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio said this week. "Just because they have that cap space, doesn't mean they have to spend it all. Like no other team the Bengals identify success as money in versus money out and they know how to turn a profit and they're very happy when they do. They don't care about championships. They care about making money."
Whether it's fair or not, that is the Bengals' national reputation. The only way they can change it is by not only spending in free agency, but by adding the right pieces around Burrow.
If they put him in position to succeed, then the tide could turn in Cincinnati's favor.
"And again, just because they have cap space doesn't mean they're going to burn it all," Florio continued. "They like to have that cap space, they like to keep that money in their pockets if they can. There's only so much you have to spend under the salary cap. It's a four-year rolling average and every dollar that you don't spend that is earmarked for the cap is raw unadulterated profit and the Bengals understand that like no one else."
Long-term profits will be much higher for Bengals owner Mike Brown and the rest of his family of he builds a winner around Burrow.
The 24-year-old quarterback brought hope to the franchise last April. Spending money to put pieces around him is the bare minimum and the Bengals should do that in free agency this offseason.
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