Mike Brown defends spending habits on free agents


The Bengals have signed a grand total of one unrestricted free agent, a guy who will compete to be a backup quarterback.

And while there are more deals to do, Bengals owner Mike Brown said bringing in a bunch of players from outside the organization isn’t anything he’s interested in.

I think what we’re trying to do is grow in the best way possible,” Brown said, via Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer. That isn’t necessarily going out and proving you can spend more money than you should. Most of these deals in all probability, at least that’s how it’s been in the past, prove out to have lot of misjudgments. But we are planning to spend our cap money and we’re hoping and we’re intending to spend it on our own people.

“There is no single silver bullet. We’re shooting a lot of small shots. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t going to cost the same amount of money. And it doesn’t mean we aren’t going to have the best team possible.

“Maybe there isn’t as much pizazz in what we’re doing as some wish. But I do think it’s the best course for our football team both in the short run and the long run.”

Translated, business as usual in Cincinnati.

While it’s easy to rip them for being cheap (they didn’t get that reputation by accident), the Bengals also have chosen a course and stuck to it.

Team officials referred to last year’s acquisition of BenJarvus Green-Ellis (as opposed to making a run at Reggie Bush this year), and they used the franchise tag to hang onto defensive end Michael Johnson, while continuing to work toward a long-term deal with right tackle Andre Smith.

“They know that we want to make a deal and we want them to engage and get it done,” Brown said.

And because he’s one of their own, there’s a chance it happens.

36 responses to “Mike Brown defends spending habits on free agents

  1. Keep saving up cap room to be able to fit Dalton and AJ Green’s paydays on the same payroll. They made the playoffs in a tough division without chasing free agents and have done a decent job staying the course. Might not be exciting, but it is at least sustainable.

  2. Actually this is more than what Mike Brown usually says about these things. Usually he says nothing. It’s also amazing in the sense that he says they are actually going to spend their cap money. Frankly I prefer seeing us spend the money on keeping the good young players we have developed as opposed to them going away. That would be a change in the way things have usually gone for the Bengals.


  3. There’s a cap floor this year right? He’ll have to spend some money, hopefully he can figure out how to get Geno Atkins extended this year, leaving room for AJ in a year or two.

    This guy learned about big money free agents when he paid Antonio Bryant somewhere around 7 Million to start just one practice.

    Being cheap as hell works well if you draft well, and lately they have.

  4. Yes; Build through the draft, but win it all with a combination of draft, retaining your own FA eligible players and adding a few Key Free Agents. They may not be ready……

  5. Don’t question Mike Brown. His business model has produced exactly zero playoff wins in the last 20 years.

  6. “Translated, business as usual in Cincinnati.
    While it’s easy to rip them for being cheap ”

    As a Bengals fan it’s easy to rip Mike Brown,But how can you rip them for making the right decision?When was the last team that bought a Superbowl?

    Bengals have some very Talented players that are going to cost alot of money to sign long term.AJ Green will Cost 15-20million a year,Geno Atkins will probably cost 10-15 Million a year they also will need resign Dunlap,MJohnson & Dalton.Plus their still needing to get BigDre Resigned…

    Championship teams build threw the draft I’m not saying the Bengals will ever be a championship team but atleast their building their team right.I would have liked to see us sign a veteran Strong Safety but I’m okay with waiting for the draft.

  7. Also well Mike Brown is cheap he’s also spent most of cap space available and never been cheap on players…His cheapness has to do with Practice Bubbles,Scouts & Free Gatorade.

  8. I feel bad for Cincy fans. Talk about one of the least committed organizations in the history of the sport. It has to be embarrassing for you folks.

    It is going to suck even more once the Browns do their leap-frog in the Division. At least there is passion there.

  9. Not a Bengals fan by any means but sometimes(most of the time actually) it’s better to build from within and through the draft. Most of the time throwing around big money and picks this time of year leaves teams poor money and draft wise later. The good teams build through the draft and let high dollar premadonnas walk at the end of thier contracts if they think to highly of themselves and not about the team. You can’t get mad at a franchise for doing buisiness like. Now, just being cheap is a different story.

  10. As strange as it may seem, many experts will tell you that spending small money on depth in free agency and developing your skill position talent through the draft is the right way to go.

    The Bengals have .500 or better records 7 out of the last 10 seasons. The Redskins, the annual champions of free agency, have done it in 4 of the last 10.

    How many big money free agents have the Steelers brought in? Not many, huh? 9 of 10 for them.

    How many NFL teams would take the Bengals’ QB and number 1 reciever over whatever they are trotting out there?

    I’m not a Bengals fan, but it’s a little silly around here sometimes.

  11. First, it is a bunch of baloney since the history of the club is to NOT retain their drafted players once either they hit free agency or once franchised (see Jason Smith, Madeiu Williams, Jonathan Joseph, Boomer Esiason, Eric Steinbach, Takeo Spikes, TJ Houshmanzadeh, etc and maybe Andre Smith). Second, we hear this refrain whether they have $4 million over the cap or $54 million (as in this year): “Oooh..we need money to keep our guys, and money for next years’ guys, and draft choices, and injury replacements, etc” Those same restrictions are for every club and, yet they make do. Third, if they had a history of winning this way, that is one thing. However, last year was the first since ’88 for back to back playoffs, they have had only 4 winning seasons in the last 20, and they have not won a playoff game since ’89 (I think). Normal, rational people say that if it does not work, try something else. Not him. Fourth, it is not as it they are great drafters either. Even forgetting the Brian Blados of this world (everybody misses on a few), since Lewis has been heard coach, the team has had numerous years with multiple picks in the first three rounds. Yet, since 2003 through 2008, five of the six 1st round picks are no longer with the team. Same thing with approximately 19 out of 21 picks from rounds 1-3 in those years. The players who are to be the backbone of your team are gone. Fourth, ok you won’t spend big money on a FA, but why not do what NE does and get a bunch of good, relatively cheap, older guys to fill in your gaps — and every team has some gaps. Where NE went out and got Teddy Bruschi, Adalius Thomas, Rodney Harrison, Corey Dillon, Brandon Lloyd, Junior Seau, and others, the Bengals have signed Karl Powell, Roger Birkett, John Thornton, Antonio Bryant, Lavernies Cole, Nate Clement, and other lesser lights. So Bengal fans are not disappointed that they did not sign Bushrod, but they are in their not signing an Ed Reed, an Uhrlacher, or a Quin. They see it, as the owners just putting the money in their pocket and not caring if they win or not.

  12. As a Steeler fan it is hard for me to say this…..but the Bengals continue to make good decisions every year. They draft well and don’t over pay their players. They remind me of the Steelers of old. Every year they get better, this year I expect them to contend for the division and make they playoffs. Good young players and a nice mix of veterans.

    They are making it hard to hate them!

  13. While I agree the Bengals are making better decisions in the draft and paying the right players (don’t agree with the Maualuga deal but I think he will be pushed back out to Sam before the season starts), you just have to remember Mike Brown is very cheap on facilities. Players have said that the Bengals have some of the cheapest facilities available. We are the northernmost team without some type of indoor practice facility. He cheaps on towels, gatorade usage, etc. And the county is paying for his stadium. The man has it made as far as the stadium deal. UC built their practice bubble and asked the Bengals to go half with them and they could also use it but the Bengals declined. Well where did the Bengals practice a handful of times last year? UC. And I hope to god UC paid them pay dearly to use it. Mike Brown is still a cheap owner. Won’t hire a GM (pays himself) and won’t build a practice bubble.

  14. Build through the draft and not through signing overpriced free agents See Redskins, and this off season probably the Dolphins and the Browns. Anyway the Dolphins and Browns have sucked for a very long time so its no suprise those are deperate franchises.

  15. This interview was conducted between errands MikeyBoy was running. After he left the free sample line at the grocery where he dined on some delicious smoked sausages, and before he arrived at the Day Old Bread store to bargain with the clerk.

  16. Never thought in a million years I’d say this, but to those of us out there with half a brain and a sensible understanding of how FA works, as well as the trajectory of this team I say the following:

    Mike Brown NEEDS NOT DEFEND his spending in free agency.

    Keep doin what you’re doin Mr. Brown! I think the consensus amongst intelligent Bengals fans is that we are going about this the right way…. for once!

    And PS, I’m tired of hearing about zero playoff wins in 20 years… the trajectory of this team is where we want it, and when you have positive hope for the future, the past matters not.

  17. @bengalsucker:

    While I did post above that I think not spending on big free agents doesn’t necessarily make you cheap, I didn’t mean to say Brown isn’t cheap.

    He is unbelievably cheap. That dome at UC cost less than 50% of what Mike Brown paid his kicker last year. I know, I sell them for a living. For what he did pay his kicker ($2,654,000) he could have had a practice structure that would put UC’s to shame.

    Not only is he cheap, he’s a bad businessman as well. He is leaving millions on the table by not naming his stadium.

  18. ” Keep doin what you’re doin Mr. Brown! I think the consensus amongst intelligent Bengals fans is that we are going about this the right way…. for once!”

    And if it takes you 40 years to get anything accomplished with this process – what does that prove? You seem to be confusing the Bengals with a franchise that has already had success with this philosophy.

  19. “””Not only is he cheap, he’s a bad businessman as well. He is leaving millions on the table by not naming his stadium.”””

    Actually a bad Businessman he is not unfortunately, not selling rights to naming Stadium actually makes me proud (I was disappointed when he talked about doing it) Leaving it named after his father is paying respect to one of the biggest influences and greatest coaches of all time.

  20. “While it’s easy to rip them for being cheap (they didn’t get that reputation by accident), the Bengals also have chosen a course and stuck to it.”

    Because it’s worked SO well for the past 20 years.

  21. The Bengals are doing it the right way. And it’s not the same as always. In the past they let their FA go. Now they lock them up. In the past they drafted poorly. Now they draft well. Future is the future. Past is the past.

  22. Why is it every time Mike talks publically, he puts his foot into his mouth and drives away fans?

    The Bengals were about three free agents plus an average draft from being a Super Bowl team. Mike had $50+million in cap, has another $10 Million in cuttable contracts, and just wastes it.

    If he loses Newman and Smith, he has to draft to replace them, leaving two holes on the team that will keep them from the Super Bowl.

    I personally believe that he has decided that Pittsburgh and Baltimore are taking three steps back this year and the team doesn’t have to improve to win the division. He is ignoring how aggressive Cleveland is in FA and with a decent draft, they will be competing with the Bengals for the division.

  23. Mike Brown is a former starting QB at Dartmouth & also a Harvard Lawyer. He & Paul started way back ca ’67 with right around $10mil & PB’s ‘cred’ as a HOF coach fronting an ownership syndicate.

    December a year ago Mike bought the last 40% or so of shares of Bengals Inc in a right of first refusal sale for a cool $200mil, incidentally that he also earned via strictly that same family business, i.e. the Bengals.

    Just as PB envisioned & Mike conceived, executed & just now brought home … despite a daunting gantlet of unforeseen obstacles.

    Now he controls practically 100% of a soon-to-be billion-dollar asset in not quite 45 years & can turn all of his attention to running the team in his ‘retirement’. We should all be so ‘stupid’ …

  24. What I want to know is who is it we were supposed to chase in free agency? Was there a deserving player this year. Most of the good free agents were extremely over priced due to a weak talent pool, or older players on the downhill slide. You can pick these kind up later in the third and fourth waves of signings. Both Reggie Nelson and TO were productive players they picked up after the draft on the cheap in the past. Also they are leaving 10M to rollover to go towards resigning Green, Atkins, Dalton, DUnlap & Gresham next year. It’s not in a couple years like some are commenting. They all have to be signed next year. They are not going to let Dalton & Green play their contracts out, their are going to extend them a year early. The Ravens got burnt playing that game with Flacco. They could’ve saved about 5-7M a year had the extended him before his contract was up. They are doing nothing different than what the Ravens and Steelers have been doing for over a decade. It’s simply that non-Bengals fans have no idea how much youth is sitting on the roster. They made the decision after the 2010 debacle to stop counting on the over 30 crowd, and letting their younger guys play and develop.

  25. One of the top drafting teams over the last 5-7 years starting with Jonathan Joesph who went to Houston for the Gatorade. They’re also pretty good at getting guys that just never played up to there potential on other teams and are playing solid football in Cincy. (Reggie Nelson, Pacman, Wallace Gilberry). I know it’s tough to admit but they’re getting it right for a change. Now if they’d only get better at rounds 5-7. Wow and I didn’t even mention Burfict also want to see what the ex-con Joiner’s got to prove.

  26. Really mike?

    You’re going to sit there and tell me Boldin wasn’t worth a 6th rounder and $6 mil a year?

    I’m fine with not doubling up on RBs. It sucks having to pass on Steven Jackson and Reggie Bush, but BJGE is alright. Shouldve keep Benson but I can’t argue much with a lateral move.

    Not taking a shot at Kruger I understand.

    Not taking a shot at Ellerbe I understand.

    Or Ed Reed, or mike Wallace etc

    But not taking a shot at Dumervil?!?!?!?!

    Come on!

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