The Cincinnati Bengals announced the re-signing of several exclusive rights free agents yesterday, but could not get a deal done in time to prevent S Reggie Nelson from entering the free agent pool when it officially begins at 4 p.m. today.
The Bengals reached agreements with RB Cedric Peerman, DT Nick Hayden and LB Vincent Rey on one year deals for the league minimum. Additionally, restricted free agent LB Dan Skuta received the low tender of $1.26 million meaning any other team attempting to sign Skuta would owe the Bengals compensation in draft picks. Negotiations are ongoing with long-snapper Clark Harris and S Jeromy Miles, both of whom will likely receive tenders today.
These signings take the Bengals cap room down to around $41 million, still second highest in the NFL.
On the surface, none of those names jump out to casual Bengals fans, but keeping Peerman and Rey are especially crucial for Darrin Simmons' special teams unit. Skuta proved himself a capable backup in Rey Maualuga's absence last year and also performed well on special teams. Hayden was on the practice squad most of the year, but could compete for playing time this season if Pat Sims departs via free agency.
Reggie Nelson's agent confirmed yesterday that an agreement could not be reached and that Nelson would "continue to have conversations with the Bengals," but "explore all options." Nelson's return to the secondary is crucial with uncertainty at cornerback and declining performance from the other safety, Chris Crocker.
Marvin Lewis has been characteristically coy in his appraisal of the Nelson situation. He told reporters at the NFL Combine last month that the Bengals would love to have Nelson back, but are high on Taylor Mays, last year's draft pick Robert Sands and Miles.
In addition to Nelson, Jonathan Fanene, Frostee Rucker, Adam Jones, Kelly Jennings, Pat Sims, Manny Lawson and Brandon Johnson will all hit the open market today unless signed prior to the deadline. On offense Jerome Simpson, Andre Caldwell, Cedric Benson, Mike McGlynn, Nate Livings, Donald Lee, Dennis Roland and Anthony Collins will be free to sign elsewhere.
Stay with Bengals 101 on Twitter and Facebook for all the latest news as free agency begins.
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