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A View on How the Bengals Will Deal with the Salary Cap Issues in 2012

Football Outsiders is out and doing Division by Division looks at the salary cap and how it affects each team around the league.

To see about the entire AFC North – click HERE

Here’s the Bengals breakdown, and some of the background on how they think things will play out for the team.

Estimated Cap Space: Around $60 million

Unrestricted Free Agents (20): Cedric Benson, Andre Caldwell, Anthony Collins, Jonathan Fanene, Kelly Jennings, Brandon Johnson, Adam Jones, Manny Lawson, Donald Lee, Nate Livings, Mike McGlynn, Reggie Nelson, Mike Nugent, Dennis Roland, Frostee Rucker, Bo Scaife, Jerome Simpson, Pat Sims, Bobbie Williams, Gibril Wilson

Restricted Free Agents (3):
Clark Harris, Chris Pressley, Dan Skuta

After ping-ponging around the Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions and Houston Texans practice squads, Harris found a home in Cincinnati, where he’s handled the snapping duties for the last 43 games. A multi-year extension might be less expensive than a tender in this case. For example, Carolina Panthers long-snapper J.J. Jansen’s extension from earlier this month was worth $901,250 per year and $1.14 million in the first year –- less than a right of “first refusal/original round” tender that carries a $1.26 million base salary. Pressley started 10 of 15 games at fullback and Skuta is a contributor on special teams who has made a few spot starts. ROFR/original round tenders for Pressley and Skuta would not surprise.

Franchise Tag Candidates:
Kicker Mike Nugent was 33-of-38 on field goal attempts in 2011, with four of his five misses coming during the month of December. The Ohio State alum turns 30 a few days before the deadline to use the franchise tag, which is projected to be worth around $2.6 million in base salary for kickers in 2012. Safety Reggie Nelson started all 16 games in his second season with the Bengals, picking up a pair of sacks to go along with his team-high four interceptions. The safety tender is projected to be worth about $6.2 million in 2012.

Potential Cap Casualties/Restructures: Cap room is not an issue, but the team could free up $3.75 million in additional cap space to sign a few of their 20 unrestricted free agents to extensions by converting cornerback Leon Hall’s $5 million roster bonus into a signing bonus and prorating that over the four remaining seasons on his contract.

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