With many NFL teams strapped under a slashed salary cap and his team possessing financial flexibility, Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin said Monday his team hopes to get involved when free agency begins next week.
Although he called free agency "unpredictable," and didn't want to make any pronouncements about a process known to be more than mutable, Tobin also said, "We're not going to sit on our hands," as he made his first public comments of the offseason.
"The way we've managed our cap and coming into it the way that we are, I think we've got a certain advantage and we're going to look to take advantage of that," Tobin said in a Zoom call with Cincinnati media.
Other topics Tobin discussed:
- The team has yet to make a decision about using the franchise tag on one of their free agents. The deadline is Tuesday at 4 p.m., but Tobin cited reports it may be pushed back. Plus, he said, the Bengals have yet to receive a final salary cap number from the NFL and want to use the info to make the final call. The two prime candidates are pass rusher Carl Lawson and cornerback William Jackson III.
- Tobin said the situation of eight-time Pro Bowl tackle Geno Atkins is "fluid,' and indicated they'd like him to return. After an injured shoulder plagued Atkins all last year during a shortened season he had no sacks, speculation is the Bengals can't make the necessary roster moves with Atkins counting more than $13 million against the salary cap for a season he turns 33.
- Tobin said the club's plans for improving the team in free agency the draft begin and end with quarterback Joe Burrow.
"We've got one of the premier best young quarterbacks in the game and we're going to do everything we can to build around him," Tobin said, "and give him the opportunity to really shine and show what he can do. It's going to start with him."
As for Burrow's rehab from reconstructive knee surgery, Tobin sounded encouraged and said the outlook is positive.