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Please have someone in the Bengals FO read this!
#1
It's something i harp on every off season; most on this board thrash me with nonsense about how acquiring free agents is dumb. Then they continue to list dumb moves by the Redskins. I hope you read this, it will inform you of the importance of acquiring talent via free agency.

https://www.theringer.com/2018/1/9/16867564/playoffs-salary-cap-free-agent-spending-jaguars-eagles-patriots


To be successful in the modern NFL is to pick up on the latest league-wide shift and adjust sooner than everyone else. The latest change has made what was once anathema to success now a prerequisite for it: spending big on free agents.

Kevin ClarkJan 9, 2018, 10:15am EST
AP Images/Ringer illustration
The quickest way to win in the NFL is to have a good quarterback—and that’ll always be the case, unless there’s a drastic change made to the rules of the sport. Beyond finding the next Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers, the second-best path to success is to spot the next trend and then adjust as quickly as possible. Teams that saw the era of offensive explosion coming due to rule changes won. Teams that drafted über-athletes using analytics win. Teams that noticed the middle of the field was wide open and that running backs could exploit modern defenses in space win. Teams that realized that college schemes could be used freely in the NFL now win, too.

The sport the NFL resembles most is not rugby or anything physical at all; it’s Formula One racing, the brand of car racing most popular outside of the Americas, in which teams like Mercedes and Ferrari dominate. That competition is defined by yearly rule and regulation changes (things as granular as reducing downforce—the downward thrust that gives a car more grip—by 30 percent) and how teams respond to those changes. The best teams throw their manpower at finding loopholes and ways to get an edge within the new sets of rules—and they usually find them within a few weeks of knowing what the changes are. The team with the best adjustment wins, and it usually wins for a few years.

The same is true in the NFL. If you know that the number of defensive pass interference calls and defensive holding calls will rise 129 percent over a seven-year period, as it just did, then it’s probably advisable to build an offense around that. There’s a reason that Bill Belichick—once dubbed a “habitual line-stepper” by a rival—has had so much success in this era: The lines define the sport.

One of the seismic changes to the sport over the past few years has been to the salary cap. In the past six years, the cap has exploded from $120 million to $167 million. In the past four seasons, it rose a minimum of $10 million a year. Meanwhile, after the 2011 collective bargaining agreement, rookie contracts became significantly cheaper, and opened up even more cap space. The competitive balance of the league is changing drastically because of it, and the market for players has become more complicated than ever before.

“It’s the biggest untold story in football,” said former Philadelphia Eagles and Cleveland Browns president Joe Banner. “With the excessive amount of available cap space, close to a billion dollars—some teams can’t mentally keep up with that.”

Incredibly, six of the top 10 2017 spenders in free agency, a period formerly reserved for desperate teams to throw money at anyone, made the playoffs: the Patriots, Titans, Rams, Vikings, Panthers, and Jaguars (who spent $20 million more than any other team).

Before the cap rose, the book on NFL free agency was that it was usually a bad idea. Sports Illustrated wrote just three years ago that some big-spending teams had learned that “shelling out cash to players who are nearing their 30s can end up backfiring in spectacular fashion.” That has changed—and quickly. All the room to spend has changed the way teams think about money. Multiple league executives, coaches, and experts told me that it is changing the way teams are built at an unprecedented pace and turned free agency from a last resort into a legitimate team-building strategy, like it has in other sports. Except, unlike the NBA, which had its massive cap spike two years ago to much fanfare, the NFL’s spike has been gradual. That means if you weren’t paying attention, you might not have noticed that the game changed.

“I can distinctly remember the days when it was almost every year, you had to let people go because of money,” Los Angeles Rams general manager Les Snead said. “Nowadays, I don’t ever remember thinking, ‘Uh-oh, we’re up against the books here.’ Now, it’s more of a strategy. ‘If we keep this guy, what does it keep us from doing?’ It’s not, ‘Hey, we’ve gotta do some things just to get legal.’ I think that’s what has allowed you to make, let’s call it ‘strategic football decisions.’”

One former general manager, who asked not to be named, told me that when he took over his team earlier this decade, he wanted to take a slower approach and build up cap space over time. The problem with the idea was that, unlike in previous eras, eventually everyone had cap space. This is the new reality; it helps explain all the new faces in the playoffs—and some of the old ones, too. The draft still matters, but for the first time, nailing free agency might be as important as acing your first-round pick.

The biggest change to the salary cap was its nearly $50 million rise in five years. The second-biggest change was a clause in the 2011 CBA that allowed teams to roll over unused cap space from year to year. This was to give teams more flexibility, while still ensuring that over a four-year period they’d spend 89 percent of the cap. It, in turn, created teams who were given mountains of cap space and would spend it very quickly. It is probably not a coincidence that the two teams specifically called out by NFLPA chief DeMaurice Smith in 2016 for spending far below the minimum threshold—the Raiders and Jaguars—became competitive soon after his comments. The Jaguars carried over $32 million on top of the normal salary cap in 2016. This offseason, the Jaguars signed defensive lineman Calais Campbell and cornerback A.J. Bouye—and matched them with 2016 free-agent defensive lineman Malik Jackson. Each of these players is worth over $15 million against the cap. Then, in October, when the team needed defensive line depth, it simply traded for Pro Bowl tackle Marcell Dareus, who signed a six-year, $96 million deal in Buffalo in 2015.

Despite all of the spending power across the league, superstars are still underpaid, and therefore so is everyone else. So as long as NFL contracts are not pegged to a percentage of the salary cap—something owners are probably not going to ever support—any good player usually becomes a bargain in relation to the cap, no matter how ludicrous the contract seems when it’s signed. According to Banner, stars don’t make as much as they should because when they’re that good, they typically don’t hit the open market and therefore take less to re-sign with their current teams. Then, everyone else is compared with those players and gets accordingly underpaid, too. So, when the Jaguars put together a collection of high-priced stars, they’re still getting great value for their money.

Marcell Dareus kneeling and celebrating a play Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
It may sound simplistic, but the cap is rising at such a rate, and the carryover money is so great, that most teams can do anything they want within reason to their roster. “Any team who was bad with their salary cap in the past now has a get-out-of-jail-free card,” said Jason Fitzgerald, who runs Over the Cap, a salary cap website, and has consulted for NFL teams. Teams, Fitzgerald said, can use the excess cap money to easily get rid of mistakes they make in free agency and move on to other plans.

“You go back to the spending sprees in the old CBAs—the Jets were pretty much dead by 2011 and entered a two-year period where they couldn’t do anything,” he said. “Dallas would always have years like that. The teams that spend now, you don’t see that. That’s changed a lot about the sport and the smart teams are being proactive about it.”

This reality is slowly working its way through the league. Recently reassigned Packers general manager Ted Thompson notoriously stayed away from free agency, and something he used to be lauded for became a reason for criticism in recent years as the cap spiked. This week, the team’s new general manager, Brian Gutekunst, made a point to say the team would be active in free agency—and that excited the Packers’ staff.

Even though the rising cap has allowed mismanaged teams countless do-overs, it’s also allowed the rich to get richer. Like the Jaguars adding Dareus, teams can essentially throw any salary onto the pile. It is easier for a great team to just trade for a top player to fill a hole. When the cap was flat, teams were capped out easier.

“Look at the Patriots, adding one of the best deep threats in the league in Brandin Cooks,” said salary cap expert and former agent Joel Corry. “Teams are more likely to trade than ever before—the teams that trade the player can better absorb the signing bonus they’d eat on the cap and the teams that get the player can carry the money on the cap. You’re also getting younger general managers who are more inclined to take risks.” Corry also points to the fact that stars like Sheldon Richardson, who went from the Jets to the Seahawks, can be traded on cut-down day.

Brandin Cooks scores a touchdown Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Banner said the legacy of the Super Bowl 50–winning Broncos will not be just the great defense. It will be as one of the first teams of the modern era who spent big on outside players—Aqib Talib, Peyton Manning, DeMarcus Ware, and Emmanuel Sanders, among others—and won. The importance of draft picks will never go away—that team would’ve been nowhere without Von Miller—but the influx of cash was just as important. That, Banner said, is the path forward for NFL teams.

In addition to giving top-tier contenders the ability to add a missing piece and encouraging thrifty teams to spend, the rising cap has also made, as Corry said, “complete teardowns much easier.” Fitzgerald said that most teams now can pay so much to players that they can front-load contracts into two-year deals instead of three for the same amount of guaranteed money. That means teams can take more short-term risks, address holes, and have “very little salary cap pain.”

Howie Roseman is a good example, experts say, of a modern general manager: The Eagles are spending to the cap, but they have as complete a roster as there is in the NFL. “He’s one of these guys with a newer mind-set, more freewheeling,” Corry said. Banner points out that Roseman is smart enough to use his cap space to sign his current players to deals that work for both sides—maybe they seem like slight overpays now, but they will be a bargain compared to what would happen if they hit the open market and teams with $100 million to spend got to bid. Banner mentioned Fletcher Cox ($63 million guaranteed), Lane Johnson ($35 million guaranteed), and Zach Ertz ($21 million guaranteed) all as contracts that seem plenty substantial but are really team-friendly when compared to what those players are worth. Then they spend the rest of their cap space on talented outsiders like receiver Alshon Jeffery (who initially signed a one-year, $14 million deal and turned it into an extension worth $52 million). The Eagles are spending a lot, but few can argue with their spending decisions. They’re the NFC’s top seed and would have been the odds-on favorite to make or even win the Super Bowl if not for Carson Wentz’s December injury.

No team epitomizes modern team-building quite like the Jaguars. Bouye and Campbell are Defensive Player of the Year candidates, and along with homegrown talents like cornerback Jalen Ramsey and defensive lineman Yannick Ngakoue, they are arguably the league’s best defense, ranking second in takeaways, points against, and sacks. How suddenly can things change? In 2016, they were 30th in takeaways, 25th in points against, and tied for 19th in sacks. They are the perfect example of how to make a team work quickly with new pieces. The Jaguars would not be in this position without hitting on draft picks like Ramsey, but they also wouldn’t be here if not for the money they spent, either.

Calais Campbell takes the field with a fire in the background Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Campbell said that he and Bouye are fast learners and that the coaching staff did a great job of defining the players’ roles early. Campbell often plays what is called a “big end” in the defense, a defensive end on the strong side of the offensive formation. It’s a role he says he’s never played before, but he says he’s comfortable there, as it allows him to use his arms and athleticism to disrupt plays from the edge. The results—14.5 sacks—make the signing an unqualified success; his $30 million guarantee is well worth it.

“Calais is a better athlete than I thought he was,” defensive coordinator Todd Wash said. Wash added that Jackson, a Super Bowl hero for the Broncos who signed for $42 million guaranteed last year, took slightly longer to acclimate to the Jaguars’ system. “He was more of a reader [in Denver], playing square to the line of scrimmage. Here we want him to get off the ball quicker and get some penetration, so it took a little bit more time for him to understand how we wanted him to play.” Jackson has roared through a successful 2017 with eight sacks and four forced fumbles. Wash said that the Jaguars were looking for certain skill sets with their acquisitions, and modern cap space meant they could go out and fill whatever holes they felt they had.

As with any structural change, there are of course unintended consequences, too. Fitzgerald said that because teams can roll over their cap money every year, teams like the 49ers or Browns will wait until they feel they can compete before they spend any substantial money. Before they do, they make for easy victories when they appear on another team’s schedule. The two franchises are now each projected to have well over $100 million in cap space this offseason. You can start the clock on them being competitive at some point. “You can call it hitting on free agents, or you can call it ‘a broken clock is right once a day’ because at some point, they are bound to hit,” Corry said. In the modern NFL, even the Browns have a chance.
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#2
I think everyone agrees that the Bengals need to be more aggressive in free agency, but the logic in this article is specious.

The part where he claims that the top paid players in the league are underpaid makes no sense.

Teams generally re-sign the best players on their roster, so any team that starts paying the guys in free agency more than the guys retained by their original teams is overpaying.

When you just look "long term" the Bengals conservative theory makes sense, but when you have a team that is just one or two players away from competing for a championship you have to take a chance on free agents.
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#3
(01-10-2018, 11:17 AM)fredtoast Wrote: I think everyone agrees that the Bengals need to be more aggressive in free agency, but the logic in this article is specious.

The part where he claims that the top paid players in the league are underpaid makes no sense.

Teams generally re-sign the best players on their roster, so any team that starts paying the guys in free agency more than the guys retained by their original teams is overpaying.

When you just look "long term" the Bengals conservative theory makes sense, but when you have a team that is just one or two players away from competing for a championship you have to take a chance on free agents.


Agreed....and that time for us was 2013-2015.....we let that slip away.
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#4
(01-10-2018, 11:20 AM)Wyche Wrote: Agreed....and that time for us was 2013-2015.....we let that slip away.

Yep we missed our window and not only in FA but drafted for future when we needed to roll dice. 
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#5
(01-09-2018, 11:20 PM)CornerBlitz Wrote: It's something i harp on every off season; most on this board thrash me with nonsense about how acquiring free agents is dumb. Then they continue to list dumb moves by the Redskins. I hope you read this, it will inform you of the importance of acquiring talent via free agency.

I don't recall "most of this board" thrashing anyone in regards to FA being dumb? I thought nearly everyone was in agreement that the Bengals should approach FA by picking up just a couple above-average to elite level starters to fill a couple gaps such that they didn't need to depend on 4+ rookies playing a ton of snaps and playing very well in order to succeed.

Case in point - No one should (or would) expect the Bengals to go out in FA to get a top-tier LB, WR, DT, and multiple OL. What is probably the best course of action is to cut bait with a couple underperforming veterans in the last years of their contracts to free up some cap space, sign two key FAs, and then extend Dunlap and Atkins. Then look to get immediate and quality contribution from 3-4 drafted rookies.
I love mock drafts!

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#6
Mike Brown and Marvin Lewis will see this article in 10 years, when everything has changed yet again, and decide that should be their new "model model". (Yes, in 10 years they will still both be here.) Of course by then all the good teams will be doing a new thing to get better.

Shit Cincinnati sports are depressing. It's like Dick Williams becoming a nepotistic GM for the Reds, saying they are finally going to value OBP, and then putting Hamilton and Peraza batting 1-2 in the order.

The Bengals will say "we're going to finally value FA" and then grab another Dansby and Minter, or a LaFell.


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#7
I'm pretty sure that the Bengals as well as every other team in the league has access to any article anyone of you might repost here and then some. They have millions of dollars to spend on research and development and so on. You don't have to agree with their strategy and they don't have to agree with whatever you post. It's a family run operation which means they can run the team any way they see fit. The only vote you get is whether to buy tickets or other junk teams sell.
How anyone can make the case that the Bengals are completely unaware of free agency issues is beyond me. Of course they're aware of all of it, but the question is do they agree with all of it? Probably not.
Think about it, every city with a news department that covers sports has someone with an opinion. That doesn't necessarily make them all right with whatever they're reporting.
I'll continue to make the case that it doesn't really matter if your team wins or not as long as you're turning enough profit to stay in business and satisfy your stock holders. Winning is just a nice award, but doesn't determine whether you're profitable or not. It's not like a company that has to compete on a global scale for customers. Inside the league what's good for one is good for all regardless of standings.
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#8
The funny part will occur when the TV deals come up for renegotiation and with the NFL ratings down nearly 20% over the last two seasons they are not going to get more or even the same $$$ out of the networks. That reduced revenue will cause the cap to go down for the first time which should be interesting.
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#9
We definately are NEVER as aggressive in FA as we should be if we wanted to get over the hump. Every year we say
the same thing, we just want one top tier FA cause we always need atleast one. It wouldn't break this team in anyway
either. Just like last year we should of kept Whitworth who was our OWN guy and we didn't even do that.

This wouldn't of broken the team and we probably would of even made the Playoffs this last season.

We don't always keep our OWN either as this is proof of that.

This year we should grab a player like Norwell G and that would help free up the draft but from what we have seen in
the past this will not happen. We will grab a AJ Hawk/Dansby/Minter type LB and hope our new O-line coach coaches
up our guys and hopefully we draft a Center early.

Atleast we will have a new O-line coach now. That is one big time upgrade for the entire franchise.

Hoping his name is Harold Goodwin.
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#10
Interesting and thought provoking read.  For many years it really did seem as though the best teams just out-drafted and had better systems than everyone else, but times seem to be changing.  With Marvin Lewis re-signing for another two years and many of the core players starting to get up there in age, it might make sense for the team to put the chips in the middle of the table with big FAs.  If Lewis and the current core don't get it done in the next two years, it'd likely mean a new regime and a true rebuild phase would be inevitable.  What big ticket guys might be worth spending on this year?  Nate Solder?  Dontari Poe?  The only thing that stinks about signing elite/good FAs is that it may alter draft decisions.  I don't think that you'd want to go out and spend big money on a DT and then turn around and draft a really good one in an early round for example.
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#11
If we kept Whit and Zeitler like 90 percent of this message board wanted too. The Oline coach Paul Alexander would still be here coaching.
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#12
(01-11-2018, 04:26 AM)Bilbo Saggins Wrote: Interesting and thought provoking read.  For many years it really did seem as though the best teams just out-drafted and had better systems than everyone else, but times seem to be changing.  With Marvin Lewis re-signing for another two years and many of the core players starting to get up there in age, it might make sense for the team to put the chips in the middle of the table with big FAs.  If Lewis and the current core don't get it done in the next two years, it'd likely mean a new regime and a true rebuild phase would be inevitable.  What big ticket guys might be worth spending on this year?  Nate Solder?  Dontari Poe?  The only thing that stinks about signing elite/good FAs is that it may alter draft decisions.  I don't think that you'd want to go out and spend big money on a DT and then turn around and draft a really good one in an early round for example.

Why would it be bad that acquired FAs could alter draft decisions? That's part of the reason FA is before the draft.
The point of FA and the draft is to improve your roster. If you are able to upgrade one position in FA, it doesn't make a lot of sense to keep adding to that position in that year's draft too...with the caveat that a particular draft pick would be far and away above draft picks at areas of need and would turn an area into an elite one.
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#13
(01-11-2018, 04:26 AM)Bilbo Saggins Wrote: Interesting and thought provoking read.  For many years it really did seem as though the best teams just out-drafted and had better systems than everyone else, but times seem to be changing.  With Marvin Lewis re-signing for another two years and many of the core players starting to get up there in age, it might make sense for the team to put the chips in the middle of the table with big FAs.  If Lewis and the current core don't get it done in the next two years, it'd likely mean a new regime and a true rebuild phase would be inevitable.  What big ticket guys might be worth spending on this year?  Nate Solder?  Dontari Poe?  The only thing that stinks about signing elite/good FAs is that it may alter draft decisions.  I don't think that you'd want to go out and spend big money on a DT and then turn around and draft a really good one in an early round for example.

Norwell the Guard from the Panthers, Jensen the Center from the Ravens and Zac Brown the LB are 3 i would love..

(01-11-2018, 09:25 AM)BengalsBong Wrote: If we kept Whit and Zeitler like 90 percent of this message board wanted too. The Oline coach Paul Alexander would still be here coaching.

Very true. In a way you have to take the bad with the good lol

(01-11-2018, 11:29 AM)ochocincos Wrote: Why would it be bad that acquired FAs could alter draft decisions? That's part of the reason FA is before the draft.
The point of FA and the draft is to improve your roster. If you are able to upgrade one position in FA, it doesn't make a lot of sense to keep adding to that position in that year's draft too...with the caveat that a particular draft pick would be far and away above draft picks at areas of need and would turn an area into an elite one.

Yep and FA's are proven in the NFL and not as likely to bust. It is simply a safer strategy and while it may cost more money you are much more likely to win a Superbowl and increase the fandom of your team. Which in the end should make you more money.
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#14
(01-11-2018, 03:15 PM)Nate (formerly eliminate08) Wrote: Norwell the Guard from the Panthers, Jensen the Center from the Ravens and Zac Brown the LB are 3 i would love..


Very true. In a way you have to take the bad with the good lol


Yep and FA's are proven in the NFL and not as likely to bust. It is simply a safer strategy and while it may cost more money you are much more likely to win a Superbowl and increase the fandom of your team. Which in the end should make you more money.

I've been thinking about a curve ball...Marqise Lee replacing Brandon LaFell.
IMO Lee is a better receiver and in the prime of his career but I don't think would command more than $8 mill a year. By adding Lee, the Bengals would solidify the receiving corps while Boyd and Ross get more snaps as WR 3/4.
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#15
(01-11-2018, 03:28 PM)ochocincos Wrote: I've been thinking about a curve ball...Marqise Lee replacing Brandon LaFell.
IMO Lee is a better receiver and in the prime of his career but I don't think would command more than $8 mill a year. By adding Lee, the Bengals would solidify the receiving corps while Boyd and Ross get more snaps as WR 3/4.

Nice curve ball, love this as well. Always liked Marqise Lee, he would give us that speed and plays in open space we need.

Have to look up some of the Safeties, i know Eric Reid will be out there but i believe we need more of a ballhawk type.
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#16
Hold your breath while I get Mike Brown on the line.

Sarcasm
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#17
(01-11-2018, 06:01 PM)Shouldamapads Wrote: Hold your breath while I get Mike Brown on the line.

Sarcasm

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#18
(01-11-2018, 11:29 AM)ochocincos Wrote: Why would it be bad that acquired FAs could alter draft decisions? That's part of the reason FA is before the draft.
The point of FA and the draft is to improve your roster. If you are able to upgrade one position in FA, it doesn't make a lot of sense to keep adding to that position in that year's draft too...with the caveat that a particular draft pick would be far and away above draft picks at areas of need and would turn an area into an elite one.

Because you never know how the draft will fall. For instance let's say that they signed a really good DE last offseason for a lot of money. Would they have still taken Willis and Lawson at that point? It's a good problem to have a bunch of depth on a roster, but there are only so many snaps to go around for each position. At some point you may miss out on the best value possible(hitting on a player in the draft/UDFA) because you've already tied a bunch of money into a position. 
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#19
(01-11-2018, 05:03 PM)Nate (formerly eliminate08) Wrote: Nice curve ball, love this as well. Always liked Marqise Lee, he would give us that speed and plays in open space we need.

Have to look up some of the Safeties, i know Eric Reid will be out there but i believe we need more of a ballhawk type.

I liked Reid too, but he's played good enough that I think he'll end up getting more in FA than Marqise Lee will.
And given we know how the Bengals always like to reserve money for upcoming internal FAs, I think they'll reserve a decent amount for Dunlap and Atkins just like they reserved for Burfict and Eifert this past year. And yes I realize Eifert wasn't extended, but the money was reserved for that regardless.
Therefore, I believe that if they do look to get a couple key impact FAs, it will be for $8 mill a year or less per player. I think Reid will command more than that plus the Bengals have better safeties than they have WRs, LBs, or OL.
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#20
(01-11-2018, 11:23 PM)Bilbo Saggins Wrote: Because you never know how the draft will fall. For instance let's say that they signed a really good DE last offseason for a lot of money. Would they have still taken Willis and Lawson at that point? It's a good problem to have a bunch of depth on a roster, but there are only so many snaps to go around for each position. At some point you may miss out on the best value possible(hitting on a player in the draft/UDFA) because you've already tied a bunch of money into a position. 

But that's reality. No team ever takes pure BPA every pick. They look at their holes and try to find BPAs that can fill those holes while simultaneously trying pure BPA for upcoming FAs within the next 1-2 years if they have the luxury of doing so.

And let's even look at times when the Bengals DID take BPA even though there were quality players ahead of him...CB.
Sure, the CB depth was nice to have, but it prevented Dennard, WJ3, and Kirkpatrick before an opportunity to play more often within their first couple years. By doing that, you essentially turn a cheap 4-5 year rookie contract into just about a 2-3 year contract, which devalues the worth of the contract.
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