Which Bengals FAs Should Keep Their Stripes?

Mar 01, 2014 6:02 AM EST

With free agency set to start within the next two weeks, each team needs to figure out which players will be brought back before they can hit the market. Some players, whether it is due to their production or the scheme of the defense, warrant a return back to the team. Others just do not fit the direction that the team is heading towards for one reason or another. The priority players are obvious for some teams, like the Cincinnati Bengals. This top-five defense from a season ago has some key starters and backups that are set to hit the market if they are not resigned in the upcoming weeks.

Must Re-sign: DE Michael Johnson

After finishing the 2012 season with 11.5 sacks, some might say that Johnson had a disappointing season in 2013. He finished with a mediocre 3.5 sacks. But while he may not have put up the numbers, he made his impact known in every game. The fifth-year veteran had nine pass deflections (three against Cleveland in Week 11) and an interception to add to his stat line this season. At the prime age of 27, Johnson is set to be an imposing factor on the defensive line for years to come.

Not a high priority: S Taylor Mays

Mays is an interesting discussion when it comes to determining if Cincinnati should re-sign him or not. In three seasons with the team, Mays has made four starts and forced zero turnovers. He has been able to provide depth for the team at the safety position and would remain a backup if the Bengals bring him back. Another option for Mays would be in regards to a discussion the team had before the 2013 season. With injuries being a problem for the team, there was talk about Mays being moved to linebacker in order to help provide depth for a group that lacks depth. Either way, there would be a place for Mays on the field as the backup.

Not an option: CB Brandon Ghee

This is an easy choice. While he did not have the expectations of a first-round draft pick, Ghee was regarded highly enough in 2010 that he was asked by the NFL to go to New York and be one of the select few players to sit in the “Green Room”. Ghee’s wait on draft day was long (selected with the last pick in the third round that year), but the team has been waiting even longer for him to produce. In three seasons (he missed the 2012 season due to injury), the fourth or fifth cornerback on the depth chart has played in 23 games (zero starts). He totaled 17 tackles and had all five of his career pass deflections in 2013. With Leon Hall returning from injury and Dre Kirkpatrick starting to emerge, there is no room for Ghee on the roster.

These are just some of players who are set to hit the market from the Bengals’ roster, but they are the three players whose futures should be most certain at this point of the offseason.