The Bengals may have just been kicking the tires Tuesday on the first day they could talk to free agents, but they kicked some pretty big rigs, starting with their own left cornerback, Johnathan Joseph, the man that took much of their attention Tuesday.
It's believed they also called on Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams and Yahoo.com reported they also made a call on Raiders guard Robert Gallery. The Bengals can't sign unrestricted free agents until Friday, when players report to Georgetown College, but they had yet to reach any deals in principle, like many teams on a surprisingly slow first day of free agency.
The Bengals said they were looking for a veteran free agent quarterback that could potentially start or back up and it's believed journeyman Bruce Gradkowski, who started the first of his 20 NFL games in Tampa Bay while Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden was then-head coach Jon Gruden's eyes in the press box, has drawn their interest.
The Bengals also made contact with outside linebacker Brandon Johnson and defensive lineman Jon Fanene, two of their own, as well as running back Cedric Benson.
Head coach Marvin Lewis said Tuesday morning the Bengals had inked about a dozen undrafted rookies, such as Louisville guard Mark Wetterer, a product of Cincinnati's Anderson High School, and the University of Kentucky's DeQuin Evans, a defensive end the club is going to move to linebacker, sources said. The Bengals won't release that list of college free agents until they have all the contracts signed.
The Bengals can also sign their draft picks but even though they didn't Tuesday it's believed they touched base with the agents for their two first two picks, A.J. Green and Andy Dalton, while both sides get comfortable with the new rookie salary pool.
They still look interested in re-signing Benson despite his arrest 10 days ago in Austin, Texas, for assault, but there are indications the Bengals think they might have to sign another back as well in case the league hands down discipline. They are still trying to get a handle on what Benson may face, if anything.
On ProFootballTalk.com Live Tuesday, NFL Players Association spokesman George Atallah indicated the "resurrected union" will have questions about allowing the league to impose discipline for off-field incidents during the lockout.
"Something tells me our members are going to tell us to deal with that pretty aggressively," Atallah told the show. "I'll just leave it at that."
Lewis left the Chad Ochocinco question at that, too. He told NFL Network on Tuesday that he expects Ochocinco to report to camp even though the consensus is the Bengals are trying to move him off the roster with one year at $6 million left on his contract.
But Lewis downplayed The Ocho's Twitter War against him that began back on Dec. 22 when Lewis made what he thought was an innocuous remark on a conference call with the San Diego media.
"I think the relationship hasn't changed," Lewis told The Network. "Chad likes to have his fun, but at the end of the day I think he knows I respect what he's done."
But whether that means The Ocho is sticking around remains to be seen.