Bengals mail Part 2: Did 2016 cap concerns affect 2015 free agency?

CINCINNATI -- Much like with Saturday's first part of the Cincinnati Bengals mailbag, we have a lot to get to with Part 2.

So, let's get to it, and keep in mind Saturday's disclaimer that news happens quickly and randomly during free agency, so let's hope some of these answers won't end up being moot:

@ColeyHarvey. That's a good question, Josh. It's also good to point out that Terrance Knighton, another potential interior defensive lineman of note, reportedly signed a one-year deal with Washington worth about $4 million. How in the world then can a one-year signing for 2015 have any impact on the Bengals' 2016 salary cap? In theory it shouldn't. So why, then, didn't Fairley sign with the Bengals? That's really what your question is asking. We don't know right now. Perhaps the decision rested with Fairley, and he felt more comfortable in St. Louis rather than Cincinnati? Perhaps he was looking for more than a one-year deal when he visited Cincinnati and the Bengals didn't want to offer that? Or maybe the Bengals were too concerned about some of the red flags (issues over his perceived lacking effort, work ethic) that came along with signing him? Free-agency signings go much deeper than just the numbers.

Speaking of the 2016 salary cap, yes, that is a concern for adding longer-term contracts from the outside right now because of the exhaustive list of key players set to hit free agency next offseason. Cincinnati clearly wants to bring back as big of a chunk of them as possible. But if the Bengals are looking to simply sign current free agents to one-year deals like Fairley ultimately appears to have been in the market for, then 2016 should have limited impact on the 2015 salary cap. That's especially the case if the Bengals can avoid using their rollover money to make those deals. Their current $8.6 million rollover stash is being set aside for bringing back some of those potential 2016 free agents.

@ColeyHarvey. Layne, it's hard say who would be considered underrated at this point. A number of the top value free agents at the Bengals' most pressing positions of need have been signed. Some of the top tight end targets -- underrated or otherwise -- now have new deals. By and large the same can be said for the defensive ends. As we mentioned Saturday, George Johnson and George Selvie could be a couple other under-the-radar defensive ends to explore, but neither addresses the Bengals' need of getting a player who could be a true No. 2 end to pair with Carlos Dunlap. Both would be rotational guys, and the Bengals don't need more players like that at that position. This is, of course, assuming they strike out on signing Michael Johnson and miss on Greg Hardy.

@ColeyHarvey. This is a question that comes up regularly in various forms. Trey, I'll say the same thing I have been: the Bengals like Domata Peko. Primarily, they appreciate the positive locker room presence he has. One of the team's longest-standing leaders, Peko was a key part of the turnaround in culture that took place the past five years. Cincinnati's belief in him was evident with last year's two-year, $8 million contract extension. That was a clear sign he wasn't going anywhere; at least not anytime soon. Yes, he does have a large cap figure that would clear up a lot of space if he were released, but the Bengals don't feel comfortable cutting him. So they won't. As for trusting him on the field, I think the fact they brought Fairley in for a free-agent visit spoke volumes about their belief in Peko. It was a sign that, yes, they trust Peko being on the roster, but perhaps it really is time to bring in another talented interior rusher to push him and to shake up the line's rotation next to Geno Atkins. Sometimes you don't have to cut a player to send a message.

@ColeyHarvey. Brandon Thompson's primary duties are to stuff interior running lanes and contribute to the Bengals' run-stop priorities. It doesn't appear that will change anytime soon. As well as Thompson played last season, he appears to be a rotational player for now. Could the Bengals expand their trust in him more during training camp and increase his role? Absolutely. But we've got some time between now and then for that to be decided. From the way it appears here in March, though, it would seem that he'll continue his role as a backup, and Peko will continue to dominate the snaps next to Atkins.

@ColeyHarvey. It's tough to put a time frame on it, Elliot. These talks don't have to take long, and they can come almost whenever. The last time coach Marvin Lewis' contract was running out, the Bengals re-signed him exactly 366 days ago. The time before that, they re-signed him almost immediately after the 2010 season. So there's no determination of when it has to happen. The big question is if it will happen. As we mentioned Friday, there are reasons to believe it may not.

@ColeyHarvey. The Bengals definitely will add receiver depth through the draft this year, but it won't have anything to do with re-signing A.J. Green. The depth they gain at the position this year will be to offset the anticipated losses of Brandon Tate and Dane Sanzenbacher this offseason. Cincinnati doesn't want to lose its Pro Bowl wideout, so Green will be re-signed long term. In this case, it's just a matter of when. That's anyone's guess at this still early stage.