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Free-agency: Which Bengals Do Browns Want?

Cincinnati defensive coordinator Paul Guenther thinks the Browns and new head coach Hue Jackson wants them all.

The Cleveland Browns are going to have a lot of money to spend this offseason under first-year head coach and former Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson.

The Bengals have a lot of free agents, 14 of the unrestricted variety.

"Hue wants them all up in Cleveland,” Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said at the team's official web site.

Probably not all of them, but certainly a few.

Cleveland has the third-largest salary cap carryover figure in the league at $20,734,144, compared to Cincinnati's $7,587,902, the ninth-highest rollover number. The Browns also have some of the best insider knowledge you can get about the Bengals, Jackson's employer up until the last few weeks.

The Browns should be able to outspend the Bengals, and they surely have the chance given the money disparity and the prudence with which the conservative Bengals wield their ways. But, will the Browns see Bengals players as safe havens for free-agent dollars because of the familiarity factor?  If so, how many do they covet, and who?

The Browns have the second pick in the draft. They should be able to fill several pressing needs at that top of rounds 1, 2 and 3, but the draft is several weeks after the beginning of free-agency, which starts March 9. The Browns may want to solve pressing problems pronto by signing free-agents ASAP, and quite possibly let a new-looking roster guide their draft.

The Browns' needs, according to NFL.com, are quarterback, wide receiver, defensive line, and linebacker, particularly on the inside. Drafting a quarterback makes sense for the Browns as well as acquiring wide receivers for him to throw to. The Bengals don't have a QB available that Jackson can pluck from the roster, but they do have two receivers Jackson knows very well: Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu, both of whom are due to become free agents.

Cincinnati hopes to sign one or both receivers, preferably before the market opens. But Jones has said he owes it to himself to test free-agency and its almighty dollars, and Sanu could receive a bloated offer that the Bengals may not want to match. It wouldn't be a surprise if one of them wound up elsewhere or on the Browns. In that scenario, the Bengals would hope to keep Jones, but he has a great chance to be overpaid, just like Sanu. Both could be ex-Bengals.

Another Bengals offensive player who will draw interest from NFL teams, but probably not from Cleveland, is right tackle Andre Smith, likely to depart the Queen City with 2015 1-2 draft choices Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher waiting in the wings.

Other Bengals the Browns may have an eye on as they fill needs are defensive linemen Wallace Gilberry, Pat Sims and Brandon Thompson, and linebackers Emmanuel Lamur and Vincent Rey. It's hard to imagine the Browns not being interested in acquiring one of Reggie Nelson, George Iloka and maybe even Adam Jones.

Those defensive players are flight risks to other NFL locations with Bengals coaching connections, namely Miami, Minnesota and Tampa Bay. Miami is where former Bengals assistant secondary coach Vance Joseph landed as a coveted defensive coordinator. Former Bengals defensive line coach Jay Hayes has the same D-line job in Tampa Bay. Zimmer, a former Bengals DC, is head coach in Minnesota with a former Bengals free-agent signing already to his credit.


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