Hobson's Choice: Closed shop?

Whats the deal with the free agents there are still some big name defenders up for grabs ( Chris Hovan, Ty Law, and Dexter Jackson to name a few ). Those guys would be an excellent addition to our defense. Hovan would be a good addition but I could understand why we wouldn't attempt to get him now but what about before the Bryan Robinson signing?

That also leads me to the situation with Jamie Sharper, it almost seemed as if the bengals were going to make a trade or atleast talk. Then I saw that Sharper was expected to be cut from the texans. Anyway why aren't the bengals making or attempting to make any bigger free agent signnings?

Alex R. Cincinnati Ohio ALEX:
The advice here is to take two aspirin, figure out if Pedro is healthy enough to pitch the opener at Great American, and get ready for Louisville to stun the world next Monday night. Because it looks like the Bengals have shut down free agency for now. They seem to be saying they'd rather have their own younger players than overpay a veteran free agent.

One of the reasons they aren't active looks to be because they are at the point if they sign anyone but center Rich Braham, they have to respond by releasing a similar salary. And, it's just too early to whack the usual suspects because of injuries at linebacker (Kevin Hardy) and gauging the off-season rehab of others (Peter Warrick.)

They don't need Hovan because of the Robinson signing, and they must have made the judgment they think Robinson is better. Jackson isn't the run-playing DB they need. Why bring on another 200-pound safety? And, what does a guy a like Law do for you when you add him to what is already the strongest part of your defense? Except foul up your salary cap and take time away from the young guys you want to develop.

Hey, Law has been a fine player, but he just turned 31 and has been hurt. Maybe later for a workable number, but they don't have much room, and if they choose to make room, it should be for that pressing need of stopping the run.

(It's a fine line, isn't it, between getting that criticism of one of those tired-old-Bengal-pre-Lewis-signings of a guy on the down side of his career, and a brilliant acquisition of savvy-seasoned-Pro-Bowl-Rod-Woodson-type-pickup? I'm not sure anyone knows what Law is between those two.)

I just don't see anybody out there in free agency that is the final piece of the puzzle on the playoff hunt. But, keep an eye on Sharper with the questions surrounding middle linebacker Nate Webster's knee.

It wouldn't be surprising if the Texans have already approached the Bengals about trading a draft pick for him. It also wouldn't be surprising if the Bengals said, "No thanks," knowing that Houston is going to release Sharper at some point, and that Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis figures to have an edge on other teams in the market because Sharper's agent has said his client would like to be re-united with his defensive coordinator in Baltimore.

Whether Sharper's number would be prohibitive is anyone's guess. A guy they may be able to eventually get for quite possibly the minimum is Atlanta's Chris Draft, a middle backer the Falcons are probably shopping to Cincinnati and others as we speak, since he's due to count about $1.3 million on the cap, and he's been made expendable by the Ed Hartwell signing. So, he's another guy for whom you can wait for a release because the Falcons figure to cut him before June 1.

Draft, 29, is not very big (5-11, 232 pounds), but he's extremely bright, can play all three spots, and if he's got speed around him he can be effective stopping the run. That type of guy could be a bridge if they need one for Webster's rehab.

But it appears as if there won't be anything mega until after the draft.

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