Training camp is upon us, and while it signifies the return of the Cincinnati Bengals to the football field it also means the opening of the window for contract negotiations with some players who would be in line for extensions. For the Bengals, that typically means those players who will be unrestricted free agents after the current season.
The list is currently 16 players long and is headlined by Pro Bowl tight end Tyler Eifert and Pro Bowl linebacker Vontaze Burfict.
Both are unique situations, and could likely require discussions that could push both parties to Sept. 9, the day before the regular season opener and a date widely considered the club deadline for such deals.
But, keep this in mind: Since the new collective bargaining agreement was signed in 2011 the Bengals have not allowed a Pro Bowl player to leave via free agency who is under the age of 32.
In the last decade, the Bengals have allowed just one Pro Bowl player under the age of 31 to depart via free agency, and that was tight end Jermaine Gresham in 2015.
Stretch back to the turn of the century, and the only other Pro Bowl player allowed to leave via free agency under the age of 30 was running back Rudi Johnson, who was released after his seventh season in 2008 at the age of 28. He played one more year in Detroit and rushed for just 237 yards.
So let’s take a look at Eifert and Burfict individually.