It's July in the Queen City, time for that blanket of haze to descend over the Riverfront as emissions and summer heat get trapped by the Ohio River and the seven hills that surround the city. Cincinnati's summertime visibility problems are nothing, however, compared to the fog that just settled over the Cincinnati Bengals at the cornerback position. With yesterday's arrest of Adam "Pac Man" Jones and the continuing NFL lockout, one half of the Bengals plans for pass coverage is in jeopardy.
The Bengals took a chance on the troubled Jones for two reasons: he is immensely talented and they knew Johnathan Joseph would be a free agent in 2011. If Jones could keep his nose clean, the thought was that possibly Mike Brown could continue in his disdain for paying top dollar for a cornerback. Jones arrest for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest puts that safety net in question now. If charges stick, Jones could be facing a lengthy NFL mandated suspension, leaving him all but unavailable for the coming season.
In a normal year, that would be all the bargaining leverage needed for a cornerback of Joseph's stature. As we know, there's been nothing normal about this off season. With the NFL and its players still at an impasse, players like Joseph have had no market in which to shop themselves. Even if, as Adam Schefter of ESPN reported this morning, the two sides are prepared to come to an official agreement at the league meeting at the end of the month, it will leave Joseph little over a week to negotiate a deal with another team. In this compacted market, prices on free agents are sure to suffer. This means Mike Brown might not have to dig as deeply into his pockets as originally thought. It also means that Joseph may have to weigh taking less money and staying within a system he already knows rather than seeking a modest pay raise to go to a new team in which there's no guarantee that he'll flourish.
Things are heating up, and it's not just the summertime temperatures. With the lockout apparently nearing its end and training camps just around the corner, news will soon be coming fast and furious in the Jungle. Stay here with Bengals 101 for your best Bengals coverage as well as convenient links to all the NFL and other sports news that is Sports Media 101.
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