The team's hope has been to start using some of the cap space it has barely touched this offseason for deals that will extend one, two or all three of the players' contracts. All are to become free agents next March after their rookie contracts expire.
Bengals president and owner Mike Brown made it clear to reporters at the owners' meetings in Orlando, Fla., this week that the organization likely will exercise Green's option that he earned for being a top-10 pick in the 2011 draft. If they make that declaration by the start of May as expected, it means the receiver will be around for both the 2014 and 2015 seasons as they try to work out a long-term deal.
That also would mean Dalton and Burfict could become more immediate priorities since neither has an option like Green. Dalton either would need to be re-signed this offseason, or at some point early in the 2014 season, in order to prevent having the franchise tag applied to him or becoming an unrestricted free agent this time next year. If Burfict doesn't get an extension, the Bengals would have to tender him as a restricted free agent this time next year and hope no team makes an offer they can't match.
With defensive tackle Domata Peko's two-year extension that was signed Thursday, the Bengals have already settled up one soon-to-expire 2015 contract. As they start trying to work out ways to keep a few others, here is a look at the players scheduled to enter free agency next year: