Good Monday morning, everyone.
It's been a few days since we've had a Morning Stripes installment here on the Cincinnati Bengals blog, but with a potentially busy week in Orlando, Fla., now is as good a time as ever to bring the series back.
The NFL's owners meetings are being held in Orlando this week. Already, Bengals president and owner Mike Brown has held court with Cincinnati media who are attending the week's meetings, and he's provided some confirmation to some news we've been expecting to hear. I should note that I'm not physically in Orlando myself. While there are a few NFL Nation reporters in Central Florida, I'm back in Ohio making sure all remains well at Paul Brown Stadium.
Perhaps the biggest news nugget from Brown's session in Orlando pertained to his starting quarterback, Andy Dalton. Brown made it clear that re-signing Dalton to a longer-term deal is the highest personnel priority the team has going right now. About a week and a half ago, the Bengals extended head coach Marvin Lewis' contract one year, through 2015. They also have made a few additions and subtractions on the periphery, trying to free up as much cash as they can to make the Dalton signing happen sooner rather than later, and to start preparing for doing the same with receiver A.J. Green and linebacker Vontaze Burfict.
As much as they'd like to make the deal for Dalton this spring or summer, Brown knows that things sometimes move slowly in the NFL, and that they may not be able to get the deal done in the time frame they have in mind. Here's some what he said Sunday, according to Bengals.com:
"We are going to try to get something done, but I don't know if we are going to be able to or not. At some point we are going to have to do something more than just let everyone else leave waiting to get something done with that situation. We held back this year trying to put ourselves in a position to get him done. If it turns out it can't be made to work, we will do something elsewhere. I don't think we plan to go another year the way we did this year."
The end of that quote reveals something quite interesting. Brown seems to be admitting that he felt the Bengals were a little too inactive this free-agency period, but he believed they had good reason. They were trying to move around other contracts in a way that would let them get Dalton the deal they think he deserves. That also should give you a better idea as to why Michael Johnson and Anthony Collins weren't able to be retained.
As of early Monday morning, the NFL Players Association's league salary-cap report shows the Bengals are operating nearly $28 million under the cap.
Along with re-signing Dalton, Brown said the club would grant Green the option on his contract to keep him through the 2015 season. They have until the beginning of May to make that decision formal. As a top-10 draft pick in 2011, Green has the right to be optioned at the end of his first contract, thanks to stipulations made in the latest collective bargaining agreement. If they still need to work out his longer-term money, the Bengals could end up placing a franchise tag on Green after the 2015 season.
What to read from all this? Dalton is the higher priority for now. There's plenty of time to get Green done.
Here are a couple of quick links from Brown's chat Sunday:
Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com outlines his biggest takeaways from Brown's session in this collection of notes. Again, notice the emphasis being placed on keeping Dalton.
The Cincinnati Enquirer's Paul Dehner Jr. offers a more detailed explanation of what the next couple of years could look like for Green, given the option and franchise tag possibilities that could keep him a Bengal at least another two years.