Will Bengals retain CB Leon Hall?

August, 17, 2011
8/17/11
11:15
AM ET
Last summer, the Cincinnati Bengals began contract negotiations with then-No. 1 cornerback Johnathan Joseph. It seemed like a good-faith effort to keep Joseph in Cincinnati long term before he became an unrestricted free agent in 2011.

But the Bengals never offered Joseph the type of deal he was looking for. Joseph eventually became an unrestricted free agent and bolted to the Houston Texans, leaving a big hole in Cincinnati's secondary.

Hall
One year later, ESPN.com's AFC North blog has learned the Bengals will soon begin contract discussions with new No. 1 cornerback Leon Hall. Like Joseph in 2010, Hall is entering the final year of his rookie contract.

Will the outcome be different? Or will history repeat itself in Cincinnati?

It's hard to build a consistent winner if the Bengals continue to let their top draft picks get away. Joseph and Hall were back-to-back first-round draft picks in 2006 and 2007, respectively. The pair developed together and gradually helped lead the Bengals to a playoff bid and AFC North title in 2009.

Joseph and Hall had the potential to be one of the NFL's top corner duos for many years. Now, half of that pair is split.

The good news is Cincinnati has more than enough cap room this summer to make a solid pitch to Hall. The 26-year-old corner has 18 career interceptions for the Bengals and hasn’t missed a game in four seasons.

The purge in Cincinnati is well-documented. With Joseph, Carson Palmer and Chad Ochocinco gone, Hall is one of the few core players left from Cincinnati’s most recent playoff team.

There are no guarantees. But it appears the Bengals are interested in making Hall a part of their future.

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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