Originally written March 12, 2013 on Fox Sports Ohio:
The clock has struck midnight, or in this case 4 p.m., and the new NFL calendar year has begun. With the new year comes the start of free agency. The Bengals have as much space under the NFLs 123 million salary cap as any team but their main goal, as stated by head coach Marvin Lewis at the combine, is to sign back as many of their own players as possible. They will look around at other unrestricted free agents who could fill holes in the secondary, at running back and linebacker but it is not the franchises style to go flashy and big. They got a few of those deals done before free agency and utilized their franchise tag on defensive end Michael Johnson. Their desire is get long-term deals done with Johnson and right tackle Andre Smith (who is on the open market) and set themselves up to begin negotiations with All-Pro defensive tackle Geno Atkins, defensive end Carlos Dunlap and tight end Jermaine Gresham, who can become free agents after the 2013 season. Also in the back of their minds is that quarterback Andy Dalton and All-Pro wide receiver A.J. Green will be able to become free agents after the 2014 season. Under the rules of the new CBA, teams cant negotiate with rookies until after their third year in the league but the Bengals will set up their contracts with that future in mind. Tuesday Defensive end Robert Geathers will continue as the longest-tenured Bengal after re-signing with the team. A fourth-round draft choice in 2004 out of Georgia, Geathers will be in his 10th season in 2013 but only be 30 years old. He started all 16 games last season, the fourth time in his career hes started a full season, and has 104 starts with the Bengals in his career out of 134 games. Geathers had 45 tackles and three sacks last season, raising his career total to 33. His re-signing helps the Bengals keep intact the majority of a defensive line that has been the foundation of a defense that finished No. 6 in the NFL in total defense and No. 8 in points allowed. The Bengals re-signed defensive end Wallace Gilberry earlier on Tuesday. Hes a big part of our success with his own play, and I know our younger guys have talked about how hes made them more effective players, said Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis. Re-signedRB Cedric PeermanDE Robert GeathersDE Wallace GilberryLS Clark HarrisP Kevin HuberK Mike Nugent Signed (previous organization)NA Tendered offersDE Michael Johnson (franchise tag, 1-yr, 11.2 million)S Jeromy Miles (restricted free agent)WR Andrew Hawkins (exclusive rights)LB Vincent Rey (exclusive rights) Unrestricted free agentsK Josh BrownDB Nate ClementsS Chris CrockerQB Bruce GradkowskiLB Thomas HowardCB Adam JonesLB Manny LawsonRB Brian LeonardLB Rey MaualugaCB Terence NewmanTE Richard QuinnOT Scott RolandRB Bernard ScottDT Pat SimsLB Dan SkutaOT Andre SmithWR Brandon Tate
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