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How 2017 Bengals Free Agents Affect '16 Draft

Cincinnati could have as many as 18 free agents next year, providing clues and insight into April's potential draft selections.

The Bengals were looking at a list of 15 free agents before the start of this year's signing period, but they will have more than that this time next year.

As it stands, the Bengals are scheduled to have 18 free agents next March. This includes 16 potential unrestricted free agents, which outnumbers this year's total count, and two restricted free agents, according to Spotrac. Here they are:

POS/PLAYER/2016 OVERALL CAP HIT

RB Giovani Bernard $1,671,517

CB Chykie Brown $760,000

RB Rex Burkhead $700,550

TE Tyler Eifert $2,626,909

LB A.J. Hawk $1,400,000

DE Margus Hunt $1,168,077

CB Dre Kirkpatrick $7,507,000

CB Chris Lewis-Harris $695,000

H-back Ryan Hewitt $603,333 (restricted free agent)

C T.J. Johnson $600,000 (restricted free agent)

K Mike Nugent $1,550,000

RB Cedric Peerman $1,210,000

DT Domata Peko $3,725,000

WR Brandon Tate $680,000

OT Andrew Whitworth $8,000,000

OT Eric Winston $785,000

S Shawn Williams $823,986

OG Kevin Zeitler $8,070,000

By our count, that's four defensive backs, three running backs and three offensive linemen. Therefore, the secondary, the offensive backfield and the interior part of the offensive line are position areas potentially in line for a draft windfall, similar to last year at offensive tackle and tight end (the Bengals drafted two each). That's in addition to pre-established 2016 draft needs at wide receiver, defensive line and linebacker.

Of course, Cincinnati will attempt to work out preseason extensions for the most important and expensive players on the 2017 free-agent list, namely Bernard, Eifert and Whitworth. In Eifert's case, a long-term deal will likely be hammered out before his rookie contract ends after the 2016 season. Eifert has a fifth-year option in his contract which could also put him under contract in 2017

Two other young starters, Kirkpatrick and Zeitler, are having their fifth-year options exercised in 2016. They are candidates to receive extensions this year, especially Zeitler, who has proven his worth. Kirkpatrick and two veteran starters, Peko and Nugent, are playing for new contracts.


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