Happy NFL Regular Season Schedule Release Day, my friends.
Be sure to check back here around 8 p.m. ET to find out the dates and kickoff times of the Cincinnati Bengals' 2014 slate. Before that, though, we'll have a number of updates relating to Bengaldom throughout the day. We start with another installment of the Bengal Quick Takes.
1. Still a 'deep' team? The question to the left has been on my mind since Tuesday afternoon when a fan posed the question to me and the other NFL Nation reporters who were taking part in our latest edition of "NFL Nation TV." (If you haven't yet heard of or checked out "NFL Nation TV," we're only through two episodes, and you can see the last one here. Come back each Tuesday at 2 p.m. ET for an interactive chat that features your questions and our often witty, sometimes funny, responses to them.)
Most specifically, the fan was wondering if it was possible to still consider the Bengals a "deep" team after their relative silence in free agency this offseason. They didn't add any big-name free agents, but lost several stars from the previous team, including defensive end Michael Johnson, offensive tackle Anthony Collins and receiver Andrew Hawkins. I know some national writers have slammed the Bengals for their seeming inactivity in free agency, and I'll admit, it has made me pause, too. But the strange thing about it is that the Bengals still are, in many ways, a "deep" team. While the talent may have taken a slight hit, particularly on the offensive line, they still have depth just about everywhere else. Besides, it had been expected since last summer that at least Johnson or Collins would be gone this offseason, with the emphasis mostly on Johnson. And while Hawkins' departure was handled rather bizarrely by the Bengals' front office, it still doesn't leave a giant hole in the receiving corps. The rest of the already deep and talented unit will return this year, and it could get a boost with a draft addition; as could all the positions. So my answer was that the Bengals aren't quite as deep maybe as last year's team, but they're still pretty deep to me. What do you think?
2. Burfict inches toward deal. Defensive linemen Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins landed the most significant Bengals contract extensions last offseason, signing deals that could pay them a combined $95 million by the time they end in 2018. This offseason, Andy Dalton and Vontaze Burfict are hoping to join defensive tackle Domata Peko in getting rather sizable raises from the Bengals. Peko signed a two-year, $7.4 million extension earlier this offseason. Now it appears it's Burfict's time to get paid as his representatives and the Bengals are currently in talks, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. It stands to reason that with there being some difficulty agreeing on what Dalton is truly worth that Cincinnati could end up putting his negotiations on the back burner in an effort to go on and get Burfict re-signed. That could especially be the case now that the team has picked up receiver A.J. Green's fifth-year option and won't have to worry about extending his contract this offseason. Just the fact the two sides are talking about extending Burfict is positive. It's certainly a credit to him. After going undrafted in 2012, he has made the teams that passed on him pay. He led the Bengals in tackles two years ago and led the league in them last season before making his first Pro Bowl. He's slated to make around $570,000 in 2014, but could easily watch that number balloon to a figure that downright dwarfs the $570,000. Stay tuned.
3. Preseason schedule unveiled. The Bengals finalized their preseason schedule late Tuesday, providing dates and kickoff times for all four games. The last two, the games at Arizona and the home finale against the Colts, had already had dates and times announced. It's interesting to see how many different nights of the week the Bengals will be playing in the preseason. The opener and finale are Thursday games. The second one is a Saturday night. The third is a Sunday night. It's strange scheduling for the preseason, but it should be a nice challenge down-on-the-depth-chart players will be proud to embrace. After all, many of them trying to make the team will be appearing in that nationally televised Aug. 24 game at Arizona.
4. Bonus money. As we reported Tuesday, 27 Bengals could make a combined $3.2 million in bonus money just for participating in voluntary workouts this offseason. That's a lot of coin. Dunlap and Atkins have the most at stake with $300,000 bonuses up for grabs. Both were at the stadium Monday when reporters were present. It pays to practice.
4b. Charles in court. Quick note that H-back Orson Charles will be in a Kentucky court Wednesday for a pre-trial hearing stemming from his March 31 arrest for wanton endangerment after he allegedly waved a gun at another motorist while traveling on Interstate 75.
5. Remembering dad. The life of Marvin Lewis Sr. was celebrated Tuesday in McDonald, Pa., the small western Pennsylvania town not far from Pittsburgh where Bengals coach Marvin Lewis Jr. was raised. Bengals.com's Geoff Hobson attended the funeral for Lewis Sr., and noted that many Bengals assistants were there, as well as team president Mike Brown, and a community that appreciated all 79 years the elder Lewis lived. Lewis Sr. died last week after a long bout with an illness.