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3 Bengals listed on NFL.com’s top 101 free agents

The Bengals are down to just two after franchise tagging Jessie Bates.

NFL: Super Bowl LVI-Los Angeles Rams at Cincinnati Bengals Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals will thankfully be bringing back an extremely similar team to that of the one that just made a Super Bowl run. The Bengals only had a handful of free agents and even fewer that were ranked among the league’s best 101.

Given key players like Joe Burrow, Tee Higgins, Logan Wilson, and Ja’Marr Chase are on rookie contracts, Cincinnati will enter the 2022 offseason with the seventh-highest cap space despite having tagged the 10th-best available free agent, S Jessie Bates.

Bates, who was the Bengals second-round pick back in 2018, was among the focal points of the team’s offseason plans. NFL.com ranked the top free agents, and Bates just barely cracked the top ten.

The list was created by NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal.

“After the worst regular season of his career, Bates was possibly the Bengals’ best player during their Super Bowl run. He’s been one of the top deep safeties since entering the league in 2018,” Rosenthal wrote on Bates, who he ranked No. 10.

The only other Bengals to crack the list were No. 79 B.J. Hill, who the team traded Billy Price for prior to last season’s commencement, and Larry Ogunjobi, who was signed last offseason from Cleveland. Ogunjobi came in at No. 98.

“Ogunjobi is that guy who gives up a lot while searching for his own splash plays, one reason he could be on his third team in as many years,” Rosenthal wrote.

To be fair, Ogunjobi was a staple of a much-improved Bengals defensive line. They should be interested in re-signing him. As for Hill, he’ll be another potential key to a successful defensive line. Hill had 50 tackles and 5.5 sacks this season.

“The former Giant was excellent for the Bengals, especially in the playoffs. He was undoubtedly an upgrade over starter Larry Ogunjobi and should be brought back,” Rosenthal wrote on Hill.

Both Hill and Ogunjobi were impactful Bengals. While the Bengals may concern themselves more with improving the offensive line, their two defensive linemen hitting the open market should have offers on the table.

Also, former Bengals’ long-time QB Andy Dalton was dubbed No. 101 on the list.