CINCINNATI -- Free agency is right around the corner, and the Cincinnati Bengals have 15 players with contracts that expire in March.
Of the 15, 13 are unrestricted free agents and two are restricted free agents. To help you understand what decisions the Bengals must make with each of them, we're taking a daily look at the respective free agents and the reasons why they will or won't be re-signed.
We begin with quarterback Jason Campbell:
Year signed: 2014
Length of previous deal: One year
2014 Cap Value: $1,500,000
2014 Role: Backup quarterback. Was the first player off the bench behind starter Andy Dalton.
Why he will be re-signed: Campbell was very seldom used in 2014, coming in only at the end of blowouts the Bengals either had administered or had handed to them. When he played more regularly in the preseason, Campbell wasn't overly impressive, throwing two interceptions to three touchdowns. Part of the reason he looked so bad had to do with the fact Dalton looked light years better, playing some of the best football of his career in those four early games. If the Bengals bring Campbell back, it's because they believe he'll be better than he was this past season. It also will be because they will feel he's the best quarterback option in free agency. For now, Cincinnati isn't in rebuilding mode at the position, meaning they have full trust in Dalton, and believe AJ McCarron, a rookie in 2014, has promise for the future. As a result, the Bengals aren't looking to draft a quarterback, but would like to have veteran depth behind Dalton. That bodes well for Campbell.
Why he won't be re-signed: Many free agents will go through the next few months mulling offers from multiple teams. There's a strong probability that won't be the case with Campbell, meaning the Bengals likely will have the leverage regarding his situation. His future in Cincinnati primarily depends upon what they want to do. While the Bengals likely aren't in draft mode when it comes to quarterback, they still could avoid re-signing Campbell in favor of bringing in a slightly younger veteran who could contend with Dalton and McCarron for the position beyond this season. It's after 2015 that the structure of Dalton's latest deal gives the Bengals a way of parting with the quarterback if they aren't pleased with him this time next year. If McCarron isn't quite ready, it would behoove the Bengals to have another quarterback prepared. But finding such a quarterback could be difficult. If Campbell isn't re-signed, the Bengals have to be sure there is free-agent talent who could be a solid No. 2.