Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 3/10/13
Before allowing them to explore the free agent market, the Cincinnati Bengals have agreed to terms with some key special team players.Punter Kevin Huber was a top priority to keep within the fold and Bengals fans can rest a little easier now that he has agreed to a long-term deal.Huber is coming off of an excellent season where he led all NFL punters with seven punts inside the five yard line.He set a team record for average net yards and average gross yards. Many times in 2012, Huber pulled the Bengals' fat out of the fire when he pinned the opponent deep after a drive stalled or set up good field position when the offense couldn't move the chains.Cincinnati also agreed to terms with long-snapper Clark Harris. Harris joined the Bengals part of the way through the 2009 season when ten year veteran and previously reliable, Brad St. Louis began to struggle. In the three seasons since, Harris has had 552 snaps, not one of which was unplayable.Cedric Peerman is also still on board, having agreed to a deal to extend his stay in Cincinnati. Peerman has value from scrimmage as well as special teams. He rushed for 258 yards on 36 attempts for an average of 7.2 yards and a touchdown in 2012.Peerman, dubbed "the Running Reverend" by some for his spiritual leadership, is Huber's last line of defense. Peerman has protected Huber well and also converted a couple of fake punts, including a 48-yarder, during the 2012 season.Along with these deals, the Bengals also tendered three key special team players. Safety Jeromy Miles, linebacker Vincent Rey and wide receiver Andrew Hawkins. Hawkins is another player with a lot of value from scrimmage, having caught 51 passes for 533 yards and four touchdowns in 2012.The Bengals still have some special teams decisions to make. Fans would like to see cornerback Adam Jones come back. Not only is he a solid corner back but he also has an explosive return game.Obviously, a decision has to be made at kicker, as well. Mike Nugent has been an excellent kicker for the Bengals since joining the team in 2010. He holds the Bengals' single-season records for field goals made (33), and points (132), both from the 2011 campaign.When Nugent went down with a calf injury in early December, 2012, the Bengals brought in Josh Brown to kick in the last four games. Brown went 11 of 12 field goals in the regular season, and 2-for-2 in the playoff loss to the Texans. I assume only one of them will be brought back.Coach Simmons' special teams has played a big roll in Cincinnati's recent success, called the top unit in the NFL by some. It's just the beginning of free agency and there are a lot of moves to be made, but solidifying the special teams  has Owner Mike Brown looking like he's going to have another good off-season.
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