NFL offseason schedule and Bengals to-do list

Published: Monday, February 05, 2018 @ 4:34 PM

Bengals introduce Teryl Austin

Here are four words no football fan wants to hear (or read): “Welcome to the offseason.” 

On the one hand, it’s nice for every every team that didn’t win the Super Bowl to get a chance to hit the rest button. 

Then again… there won’t be another NFL game for about six months. 

RELATED: Takeaways from the Super Bowl (and lessons for the Bengals)

To navigate that period of time, here’s a rundown of the key points on the league calendar with some notes about how the Bengals can use them to beat the early odds and become competitors again. 

Feb. 20

Teams can designate “franchise” and “transition” players. 

The best of the Bengals’ free-agents-to-be is probably punter Kevin Huber. He could get tagged or sign a long-term contract. 

None of the Bengals’ other pending unrestricted free agents look like high-priority players, though some could have some value if retained — especially at the right price. That group includes Tyler Eifert, Andre Smith, Chris Smith and maybe Russell Bodine. 

Feb. 27-March 5

The NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. 

This is a chance for all of the teams in the league to get a closer look at some of the best prospects coming out of college. 

The Bengals will no doubt be looking for linemen, preferably a couple who can help sooner than later on the offense. They could also use a play-making safety, another linebacker and probably a pass-catching tight end. Plus, can any team ever have enough pass rushers? (Nope)

Feb. 6 

Deadline to tag players (see above). 

Feb. 15

Arbitrator rules on A.J. McCarron’s status

The backup quarterback is set to be a restricted free agent, but he could be declared an unrestricted free agent if an arbitrator declares he accrued enough service time during his first year out of college. 

March 12-14 

Teams can negotiate with free agents but not sign them yet. 

Marvin Lewis said in his first press conference after it was announced he will be back as head coach the team could try to figure out where the draft class is lacking and be more aggressive in finding free agents who can fill needs. (That was something they failed to do in regards to the offensive line last year.) 

Among the free agents who could fit needs for the Bengals are offensive linemen Andrew Norwell, a Cincinnati native who played at Ohio State, and Nate Solder. 

There’s also an intriguing group of defensive backs including Lamarcus Joyner, Morgan Burnett, Kenny Vaccaro and Eric Reid. 

Perhaps Ezekiel Ansah, a pass rusher who is familiar with new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin? 

March 14

League year begins, meaning trades are allowed and free agents can sign. 

April 14

Teams that did not hire new head coaches may begin offseason workouts. 

April 20 

Deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets. 

April 25 

Deadline for teams to exercise right of first refusal to restricted free agents. 

April 26 

NFL draft in Arlington, Texas 

The Bengals have the 12th pick in the first round. They should have a great opportunity to pick a talented offensive lineman or a playmaker on defense, and the glut of quarterbacks potentially going in the top 10 might help them get just the guy they want. 

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Former Kansas State coach Jim Dickey dies at 83

Published: Monday, February 19, 2018 @ 1:16 PM

Former Kansas State football coach Jim Dickey died at the age of 83 on Saturday, according to a report from The Mercury’s Ryan Black.

Dickey coached at Kansas State from 1978-1985. He led the Wildcats to their first bowl appearance in school history — the Independence Bowl — during the 1982 season. He was named Big 8 Coach of the Year that season.

Dickey was relieved of his duties after an 0-2 start to the 1985 season for Kansas State.

Dickey posted a 24-52-2 record during his tenure as Kansas State’s coach. He also spent time as an assistant at Kansas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State among other teams during his coaching career.

According to the report, Dickey had recently been living at a rest home in Houston, Texas.

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UCLA guard Aaron Holiday named Pac-12 Player of the Week

Published: Monday, February 19, 2018 @ 1:09 PM

A home sweep of the Oregon schools gave UCLA a major boost to its NCAA tournament hopes while also keeping it within reach of Arizona for the Pac-12 regular season title. Those victories wouldn’t have been possible without Aaron Holiday’s exploits over the weekend in Westwood.

So it was no surprised that the UCLA junior guard was named Pac-12 Player of the Week after averaging 23 points and 8 assists in wins over Oregon State and Oregon.

Holiday scored 17 points and a season-high 10 assists in Thursday’s 75-68 victory over Oregon State, then two nights later had 29 points on 9-of-13 shooting (with 5 three-pointers) in the Bruins’ 86-78 overtime win against Oregon.

It was Holiday’s second conference player of the week award this season, having also won the honor in late December. He leads the Pac-12 in scoring (20.9 points per game) and three-point shooting (51.2 percent) in league games.

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Report: Texas Tech ace Steven Gingery to miss rest of 2018 season with injury

Published: Monday, February 19, 2018 @ 1:09 PM

According to a report from Kendall Rogers of D1baseball.com, Texas Tech LHP Steven Gingery will miss the rest of the 2018 season.

Gingery tore his Ulnar Collateral Ligament and will require surgery to fix it.

In the 2017 season, Gingery went 10-1 with a 1.58 ERA, and was expected to be a massive part of the Texas Tech pitching rotation. Gingery, who hails from California, won Big 12 Pitcher of the Year as selected by the conference’s coaches for his efforts during the 2017 season.

Texas Tech is currently the No. 3 team in the nation according to NCAA.com, and holds an undefeated 4-0 record.

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WATCH: Will Wade scoffs at question about LSU basketball postseason chances

Published: Monday, February 19, 2018 @ 1:01 PM

BATON ROUGE, La. — Don’t ask LSU basketball coach Will Wade about the Tigers’ postseason chances.

Then again, when it comes to pure entertainment value, maybe you should.

Wade’s response when asked if he had put any thought into LSU’s status as a possible NCAA tournament team wasn’t quite as incredulous as former Indianapolis Colts coach Jim Mora when he was asked about the playoffs, but it still made for some golden video footage.

“What are you talking about, postseason?” Wade said before muttering “no” several times and punctuating it with a “Hell no.”

LSU (15-11) is a long shot for the NCAA tournament, though the Tigers would certainly play themselves into consideration by winning their final four regular-season games and another game or two in the SEC tournament. LSU is one of 17 teams in the country with 5 or more “Quadrant 1” wins this season. (Home wins against teams rated with a top-30 RPI, neutral-site wins over teams in the top 50 and road wins over teams in the top 75 all qualify as Quadrant 1 wins.)

With a win over Vanderbilt on Tuesday, LSU will assure itself of finishing .500 or better this season. When asked whether that was one of his top goals for this season, Wade reacted as if someone had asked him whether it was impressive that man once landed on the moon.

“Are you kidding me?” he stated with his voice raised an octave. “We were 10-21 last year. We lost 15 straight games. Shoot. We’ve won 6 SEC games. We won 2 [last season]! The first goal was to not have a losing season. That would be phenomenal.”

LSU hosts Vandy on Tuesday at 8 p.m. CT.

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