Before they break for next week's NFL meetings in Palm Beach, Fla., the Bengals are hoping they'll be able to announce by Friday the re-signing of a couple of key regulars and possibly an addition or two from other clubs.
Cornerback/return man Adam Jones said Thursday night he's agreed to a one-year deal and it's believed the Bengals are also continuing to have interest in bringing back defensive tackle Pat Sims and offensive lineman Anthony Collins in an effort to solidify their depth.
Sims and Collins, drafted in the third and fourth rounds of the 2008 draft, respectively, have responded well in various roles on their lines. Sims is a run-stuffer that would provide ballast for a line rotation that lost a pair of end/tackles in Jon Fanene and Frostee Rucker, and Collins has started at both right and left tackle.
Re-signing Collins would again offer nice veteran depth behind left tackle Andrew Whitworth and right tackle Andre Smith. Left guard Travelle Wharton, signed last Saturday from the Panthers, has played a lot of left tackle during his eight seasons. But Collins has started 12 games at right tackle in the past three seasons.
The Bengals are not only trying to re-up Sims, but they are trying to add one or two defensive ends. The most prominent mentioned have been the Colts' Jamaal Anderson and Denver's Derrick Harvey, two top 10 picks looking to revive their careers who visited last weekend.
Jones, 28, has already revived his career here, and he's trying to take the next step. Last month he finished all his probation commitments and reports he's healthier than he's been since a season-ending neck injury in late October 2010.
Plus, Jones has settled in his new Cincinnati home with his fiancée and daughter and he's never felt better spiritually as well.
"It's the first time in my life it's just football and Adam Jones and I can't wait to get started," Jones said. "I'm really excited about what I can do playing in all 16 games. I feel like I really know the defense and I'm just as comfortable as I've ever been both on and off the field."
Jones is believed to have had interest from two other teams, although agent Peter Schaffer wouldn't confirm it, but he did confirm Jones's comfort level with the Bengals is key.
"I'm so proud of him getting this contract," Schaffer said. "It's another milestone in his development of becoming a better person, teammate, husband and father."
Jones started the final eight games last season in place of the injured Leon Hall (Achilles), including the Wild Card loss in Houston. Especially the Wild Card loss in Houston. The one where Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson buckled him with a double-move on a 40-yard touchdown pass for a 24-10 lead with 1:08 left in the third quarter.
"I couldn't sleep for a couple of weeks after that game; that double-move," Jones said. "I know what I did. I knew what I did wrong with my technique. I took my eyes off him. I've been going over it ever since."
The closest Jones came to playing 16 games came in his first two seasons of 2005 and 2006, when he played 15 each before his crushing off-field problems limited him to just nine games from '07-09 before the Bengals gave him a shot in 2010. The neck rehab and a hamstring pull kept him from taking a snap until Nov. 20 last season.
"I really feel like I can do some good things if I can play all 16," Jones said. "I think the secondary is really good. We know each other and we've got experience in the same system."
Jones, who becomes the sixth corner under contract, says he wasn't surprised the club signed Houston's Jason Allen on Tuesday for two years at a reported $8.2 million. Plus, the Bengals are still expected to draft one.
"You need four or five corners," Jones said. "My man (Hall) is coming back from (Achilles) surgery, and we've got some solid guys behind him."