CINCINNATI -- It appears the Cincinnati Bengals have learned their lesson one year after a pre-free agency miscalculation led to them missing out on a key backup pass-catching weapon.
They didn't want to fall into that trap a second straight season, it seems.
According to ESPN Insider Field Yates, the Bengals have offered a second-round tender worth about $2.4 million to restricted free agent linebacker Emmanuel Lamur. It's a clear sign the front office learned from its mistake last March of offering a low-round tender to receiver Andrew Hawkins, who subsequently was poached away when the Cleveland Browns out-bid the Bengals for him.
Unlike with unrestricted free agents, salaries for restricted free agents are slotted based upon draft compensation another team would have to pay the player's original team if it wanted to sign that player away. So in the case of a player who received a second-round tender like Lamur, any team that wishes to out-bid the Bengals for his services not only would have to offer him more than the $2.4 million, but it also would owe Cincinnati a second-round draft pick as compensation for the signing.
In Hawkins' case, since he was signed by the Bengals as an undrafted free agent, and because they extended him the low-round tender, any team that wanted him simply had to out-bid the low-round tender offer. That team would not be forced into compensating the Bengals a draft pick. That's why, unless the Bengals would have been able to match Cleveland's final four-year, $13 million offer, Hawkins would walk.
Cincinnati didn't feel it could match that, so Hawkins became a Brown.
It's a lot less likely that another team would give up a second-round pick to the Bengals in exchange for Lamur, a 25-year-old outside linebacker who had his first full season with the Bengals in 2014. Although he was among the league leaders in tackles with 90, and although he also had two interceptions, Lamur still struggled at times guarding the gauntlet of tough tight ends he faced. Rob Gronkowski caught six passes for 100 yards and a touchdown on him at New England.
This year, low-round tenders are worth $1.54 million and first-round tenders can receive $3.35 million. Restricted free agents who receive offer sheets from their teams this weekend have until April 24 to sign them. There's little reason to believe Lamur won't sign his.
Defensive tackle Devon Still, the lineman whose 4-year-old daughter's public cancer fight has been one of sports' biggest feel-good stories in the past year, is the Bengals' other restricted free agent this year. There is no indication yet on what round tender he has been offered.
News of Lamur's offer comes one day after the Bengals signed middle linebacker Rey Maualuga to a three-year contract extension.