Jessie Bates came to the Cincinnati Bengals and made an immediate impact as a defensive playmaker. While his interception numbers may have declined, he has been a big part of the Bengals’ success defensively over the last few years and made massive improvements as a tackler and run supporter.
Unfortunately, his time as a Bengal may be coming to an end. After playing on the franchise tag in 2022, he is likely on the way out of town.
Vonn Bell could also be testing the free agency waters this offseason. Bell has been a fantastic defender and team captain over the last few years. He has the spirit of an undersized linebacker and has improved greater in coverage under the tutelage of Robert Livingston (the Bengals’ safeties coach, not the guy from Office Space).
The Bengals drafted Dax Hill in the first round of last year’s NFL Draft, and the assumption was that he would replace Bates in 2023. Those suspicions were seemingly confirmed when Hill took all of Bates’ free safety reps during the veteran’s training camp holdout. Hill saw limited action on the defense for most of the season but eventually got a start at nickel cornerback. Hill has a lot to prove heading into the offseason. Is he the future?
I discuss all three players in this podcast.