The Bengals have extended tender offers to three players – WR Andrew Hawkins, LB Vincent Rey and WR Dane Sanzenbacher. Their Cincinnati contracts from 2013 expire Saturday, and as the NFL’s free agency period begins that day, they will be restricted free agents (RFAs).
All three are fourth-year NFL players in 2014.
“This is part of the yearly process to help us retain our core of good young players,” said head coach Marvin Lewis. “Andrew, Vinny and Dane have earned the opportunity to look at the market, but we want them back with us. They are certainly in our plans.”
The three players may negotiate with other teams, starting Saturday. But by extending the tenders, the Bengals gain the right to retain any of them by matching a competing signed offer. If an RFA does not sign with another team, he can remain with his original team by signing the one-year tender, or by negotiating a longer-term contract.
The deadline for a restricted free agent to sign an offer sheet from another team is May 2. Any RFA who has not signed an offer sheet by that date will have his 2014 NFL rights revert exclusively to his 2013 club.
Hawkins missed the first eight games of last season with an ankle injury, but he played in the last eight and the Wild Card playoff. In 35 games over three Bengals seasons, he has 86 catches for 995 yards and four TDs.
Rey, who joined the Bengals in 2010 as a college free agent, had a breakout year in 2013. He played in every game and proved himself a starting-quality replacement when MLB Rey Maualuga was injured for three games. Rey had 4.0 sacks among his 54 tackles for the season, and he also had two interceptions, one for a touchdown.
Sanzenbacher played in 10 games last season, with one start. He had a key catch in the final minute on Oct. 20 at Detroit, helping gain field position for a game-winning field goal.