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Hobson's Choice: Talent Over Money

Q: It seems as though management tried to keep Willie and Deltha at a lower number in terms of salary. Doesn't this prove that even they feel like they have sacrificed talent for money? I understand and support the release of Rudi but not so much the release of a proven right tackle. A healthy Willie as a backup is definitely good insurance. They might say they wanted to go in a more youthful direction, but by all accounts their first choice was to keep these guys and pay them less. What do you think?
--Dan, Cincinnati, OH

DAN: Fitting, since Sunday is the two-year anniversary of Anderson's $32 million extension.

Remember how they got ripped for sacrificing age over money because Willie was 31?

But they felt even though he was 31, he had played at a high level for 96 straight games. So they paid him like he was. The highest paid right tackle in football.

That's the thing. Unlike you and Willie, the Bengals don't think he showed enough that he is healthy. That's the dispute. Not the money.

I've got to believe if the Bengals thought he was as healthy as he was when they gave him the extension, he'd not only be here, but he'd be starting even with Stacy Andrews making $7.5M.

Believe me, if they cared about money over talent, they also would have taken out fullback Jeremi Johnson. But they think he's good enough despite missing almost all of camp with a weight problem.

When it comes to Anderson, there seems to be a wide gulf of what he thinks he can do and what the Bengals think he can do. Apparently they just think he can play well enough and long enough to back up and should be paid as such. Willie, as we know, vehemently disagrees.

In my mind a tackle as good as Anderson on the bench, even on one leg, is worth the $3M. Protect Carson Palmer at any cost. But then again, I don't have to pay T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Shayne Graham, and maybe Chad Johnson again.

If it was purely a money issue, they would have whacked him (in Willie's honor because he's a big fan of The Godfather movies) on July 15.

That was the final day they had a chance to get a long-term deal with Andrews and when they didn't get it they had to take his $7.5 million salary for the year.

But they wanted to see Anderson at camp.

Yeah, it became a money issue. But only because they didn't know if they were going to get the same talent. It's really not that far off the Rudi thing.

They would have been glad to pay him $3.5M this year to Rudi if they could have based their guess on more than about five practices in pads and no scrimmage or games.

If it was purely money, all three moves would have been done before the draft. No question that money was a big part of it. But I think it is related to talent and health and that's where you get the disagreements. <>

Q: I don't understand why the Bengals cut O'Neal. What happens if Hall or Joseph miss any time? Why didn't they try to trade him?
--Andy, Cincinnati, OH

ANDY: My thoughts exactly. Especially now that they didn't pick up a cornerback on waivers and the fourth guy is college free agent Simeon Castille of Alabama.

I'm not saying O'Neal is the answer. But he played competently last year and the third corner, David Jones, is almost as unproven as Castille. The only other option is safety Herana-Daze Jones, who has played hardly any corner in the regular season.

OK, O'Neal makes almost $3M and looks like he can't return punts. But that's not a bad insurance policy. He's had a tough preseason and people are questioning if he can run anymore.

Yet, at least you could line the guy up and he brought you 31 NFL interceptions. If there's an injury, the drop off in experience at that position is alarming.

They must think there is a corner shortage after not coming home with one Sunday.

As for trading O'Neal, never could have happened. Not at that salary and that age (31) at that spot three years removed from a Pro Bowl.  

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