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NFL Cincinnati Bengals

5 Cincinnati Bengals Who Must Be Kicked To The Curb Before Free Agency

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5 Cincinnati Bengals Who Must Be Kicked To The Curb Before Free Agency

Cincinnati Bengals
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The Cincinnati Bengals have made the playoffs two years in a row, only to crash and burn when they got there both times. While just making the playoffs is an accomplishment for a franchise that struggled their way through most of the last two decades, they now find themselves in a much tougher spot.

The thing is, it isn’t that hard to go from terrible to alright in the NFL. It happens all the time. If you’re really bad for a long time, you get enough top-10 picks that you have to eventually start winning some games. Throw in a semi-competent quarterback and you have the current version of the Bengals.

They're good, but still not great, and they now need to do the hard part. They need to figure out which pieces on the roster will stick around for a championship run and which guys need to be let go. It’s hard to do because it usually means releasing players who still have something to offer on the field. But they either need to upgrade their talent, get someone younger or just simply get someone cheaper.

One quick thing before we get started: you won't find Andy Dalton on this list. While it may be the case that Cincy needs a better quarterback to get over the top, Dalton costs so little against the cap that there is no way they will get rid of him until he starts demanding more money. For now, the only reason the rest of the team is so good is because they don't have to allocate much cap money to the quarterback position.

The Bengals are at that point where they need to shake things up to get better, and these are the five players who should be shown the door before free agency begins.

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5. James Harrison

James Harrison Cincinnati Bengals
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When the Bengals signed linebacker James Harrison from their rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers, it looked like they had gotten themselves an emotional leader who could help them learn to win. But instead, they got an over-the-hill player who, despite starting 10 games, only had 30 tackles and two sacks. Leadership is important, but so is being able to make plays.

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4. Mike Nugent

Mike Nugent Cincinnati Bengals
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Mike Nugent finished tied for 23rd in field goal percentage last year. Carrying a $1.4 million cap hit in 2014. That's too much for a below-average kicker. The Bengals can save themselves some all-important cap money if they replace him with a cheaper kicker who really can't do that much worse.

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3. Reggie Nelson

Reggie Nelson Cincinnati Bengals
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Reggie Nelson has been a reliable safety for the Bengals since they traded for him in 2010, but he heads into next season costing $4.475 million against the cap, a number way too high for a safety, and has a bad habit of giving up big plays. They can let him go, save the money and replace him with a younger model in the draft.

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2. Benjarvus Green-Ellis

Benjarvis Green-Ellis
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Benjarvus Green-Ellis is about as solid an NFL back as you can get. He never fumbles and always gets solid yards. But he costs $3 million against the cap and the Bengals need to start giving the majority of the snaps to the talented youngster Giovani Bernard. The team should save the money, get a backup in the draft and move on.

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1. Adam Jones

Adam Jones Cincinnati Bengals
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Adam Jones has been a solid defensive back for Cincinnati the last few years, but they're deep at that position and Jones comes with a $2.8 million cap hit next year. Getting older, the time to cut ties with an aging defensive back is always earlier than you think.