This week, the AFC North blog will be taking a look at what each team has done now that the first wave of NFL free agency is over.
Signed (14 players): DE Michael Johnson (franchise tag), LB Rey Maualuga, DE Robert Geathers, CB Adam Jones, K Mike Nugent, P Kevin Huber, DE Wallace Gilberry, RB Cedric Peerman, WR Brandon Tate, OT Dennis Roland, TE Richard Quinn, LS Clark Harris and QB Josh Johnson (Browns). OLB Aaron Maybin (Jets) was also signed in January.
What's next: Just as it was at the start of free agency, the Bengals' priority is to retain Smith and Newman. Smith has surprisingly drawn little interest from other teams, which shows the Bengals were right not to put the franchise tag on him. It appears that teams are hesitant to give him a big contract because of questionable work ethic in the past. Even if the Bengals are unable to keep Smith, they can find a starting right tackle in the first round of the draft.
Cincinnati would also like to hold onto Newman, one of the pleasant surprises on last year's team. Newman, who said he would decide between the Bengals and Raiders last week, provides reliable insurance if Dre Kirkpatrick isn't ready to start this season. You can expect the Bengals to add a few more lower-tier free agents from other teams to fill out the roster, but the biggest move the team can make is signing defensive tackle Geno Atkins (a free agent next year) to a contract extension.
Existing needs: Right tackle, strong safety, outside linebacker.