There are professional sports franchises that will spare no cost to win. The New York Yankees and the Dallas Cowboys come to mind. Then there are those franchises that appear to care only about the bottom line. Enter the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Bengals, who have star receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh ready to bolt for free agency, have used their franchise tag on kicker Shayne Graham. That gives the eight-year veteran the option to sign a one-year deal for a salary equal to the average of the five highest-paid kickers from last season. The value of the franchise tag for kickers in 2009 is a salary of $2.48 million.
Granted, Graham's 85.6 percent career field-goal accuracy ranks fourth all-time in the NFL and he holds several Bengals kicking records, including consecutive field goals (21), season field-goal percentage (91.2) and consecutive extra points (158). He is also second on the Bengals' career scoring list with 682 points. But to use the franchise tag on a kicker, when you have a receiver heading into free agency who averaged 102 catches over the last two seasons, just doesn't seem like the move of a team hell-bent on winning.
Head coach Marvin Lewis said Monday's announcement does not mean the team is giving up on signing the veteran wide receiver. Houshmandzadeh has said the odds are against him returning to Cincinnati. It's looking like he's right.
Makes you wonder if this franchise is really committed to winning.