The Bengals lead the league in salary cap space, but that doesn’t mean they’re going on a spending spree on March 12.
In fact, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis says that the team’s priority is to keep the players it has, not to add a lot of high-priced talent from elsewhere.
“Our cap space needs to be spent on our own players,” Lewis told NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
With offensive tackle Andre Smith and defensive end Michael Johnson set to become unrestricted free agents, it makes sense that the Bengals’ top priority would be keeping those two talented young players. And Lewis also pointed out that the Bengals aren’t on a one-year plan and don’t want to break the bank with expensive contracts this year that can cause salary-cap problems in years to come.
That could just be smart salary-cap management, although given Bengals owner Mike Brown’s reputation for cheapness, some will see it as evidence that the Bengals just aren’t willing to spend what they’d have to spend to take the next step from a playoff team to a champion.
At the very least, Lewis’s comments strongly suggest that the Bengals won’t be out-bid for Smith or Johnson. If either of those two get away, that’s a bad sign for fans in Cincinnati.