The re-signing of Vincent Rey stocks the Bengals' cupboard.
BOCA RATON, Fla. - Refreshed from a robust free agency his team signed three core defensive players, Bengals president Mike Brown is bullish on his Bengals.
"A lot of teams, in my opinion, would take where we are to where they are," Brown said Wednesday as the NFL's annual owners' meeting ended.
The Bengals wanted to re-sign wide receiver Marvin Jones and thought they did when they offered the same $40 million deal he took in Detroit. But they re-signed Pro Bowl cornerback Adam Jones, starting safety George Iloka, and handyman linebacker Vincent Rey is looking at starting the first three games as Vontaze Burfict serves an NFL suspension.
"We preserved what we could in the secondary. We're pretty solid," Brown said. "We got back Vinny Rey and that was important for us with Burfict's situation. We did get hit at receiver. We lost two guys. We'll have to fill it in. It is something we are working on. We'll work on it as we continue to go along. Free agency isn't over and we also have the draft coming up."
The Bengals are still apparently talking to veteran free agent wide receiver Brandon LaFell as they look to replace Jones and Mohamed Sanu. But with emerging young players like safety Shawn Williams and right tackle Cedric Ogbuehi lined up to take other spots, the Bengals felt like they have a good pipeline to fill in free-agent departures.
"We tried to anticipate some of what was going to happen by drafting the two tackles last year," Brown said of Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher. "We had the opportunity to do it. We were situated where we could with our depth.
"As best we could, we tried to maintain what we had and I think we did a good job of it overall. We got a lot of (free agents) back."
Like all of Bengaldom, Brown went through his own withdrawal after the excruciating Wild Card loss to the Steelers. It gets tougher every day. Since that game the NFL has admitted the Steelers didn't score their only touchdown and assistant coach Joey Porter shouldn't have been on the field for the crucial penalty on the Bengals.
Then on Monday the NFL re-interpreted its crown-of-the-helmet rule, which would have eliminated running back Giovani Bernard's third quarter fumble.
But Brown is as philosophical as they come.
"I am basically conservative. I don't look for perfection in life. I don't look for perfection in officiating. They make judgments. And sometimes they even don't clean it up upon further review," Brown said. "I don't like it. Sometimes it impacts me to the point where my emotions are aroused. But I get over it. And I do accept it.
"It's a football game. It takes three hours to play. All sorts of stuff happens. That's what makes it interesting in part. There are unexpected things that happen in football games, almost every one – I'll re-state that – in every one. That's part of the excitement involved with the game."
But it doesn't take away from the adrenaline of that last month, a very proud moment for him because of how the Bengals played after MVP candidate Andy Dalton broke his thumb and was out for the year.
He knew what it meant when he turned to brother Pete Brown after he had been told Dalton's throwing thumb was broken.
"When Andy got hurt that was about the biggest single adverse thing that could happen to us. I said to Pete, there goes our shot," Brown said.
But what Brown likes is the air didn't go out of the balloon. They kept playing.
"I thought we rebounded well from that. I was pleased with how (AJ) McCarron did," Brown said of Dalton's backup. "I was pleased with how the team reacted. It just went on. It didn't resign itself. I thought our team gave a good effort. We made a real run at it. We seemed to be on track to keep on going when things happened in the final game. It was a good season. We didn't win the Super Bowl. But I was very pleased with how our guys did overall."