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Potential tight end options still available for the Bengals

Who will be Cincinnati’s starting tight end in 2023?

NCAA Football: Stanford at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

One of Joe Burrow’s secret superpowers has been getting his tight ends paid... with other teams.

Following the 2021 season, CJ Uzomah signed a three-year, $24 million contract with the New York Jets. After this season, Hayden Hurst signed a three-year, $21.75 million contract with the Carolina Panthers.

So, the big question remains: Who will be the starting tight end for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2023?

NFL Draft

The good news is the tight end draft class is incredibly deep with talent.

The dream scenario for the Bengals would be drafting Northern Kentucky native Michael Mayer. Mayer played his high school football at Covington Catholic and spent his college career at Notre Dame.

But, if Mayer doesn’t fall to the 28th pick, there are still other names available.

The Bengals met with Utah’s Dalton Kincaid and Georgia’s Darnell Washington at the NFL Draft Combine, last month.

Kincaid could potentially fall to the second day of the draft after suffering an injury at the end of last season. He was cleared Monday and will look to continue getting healthy before the NFL Draft in April.

Washington had a strong performance at the NFL Combine and is a pure athlete standing at 6’7”. The Georgia tight end has quite a bit of upside if the Bengals go with him in the draft.

Luke Musgrave (Oregon State) and Sam LaPorta (Iowa) also have the goods at the position.

Cincinnati could also pursue a tight end in the later rounds of the Draft, with guys like Josh Whyle (Cincinnati), Luke Schoonmaker (Michigan), and Zack Kuntz (Old Dominion).

There are so many potential options for the Bengals in this Draft and Duke Tobin could be looking to double-dip at the position if a veteran isn’t signed in the next few weeks.

Free Agents

Although the top free agent tight ends have been signed, there are still plenty of names the Bengals could toss around for TE1 or TE2.

The Bengals have a free agent of their own in Drew Sample. Although Sample hasn’t been incredibly productive, he would be a great leader and mentor for a rookie Cincinnati could draft.

Irv Smith Jr. is currently the best available free agent option for the Bengals. The New Orleans native is just 25 years old but has dealt with injuries throughout his career.

Smith has pure talent and can help protect Burrow with his pass blocking. He could potentially be a low-risk high-reward option for Joe Burrow, with the Cajun spirit the Bengals have used to power their success as of late.

Cameron Brate is another strong veteran candidate Cincinnati could pursue. The 32-year-old played for Tampa Bay since 2014, with his most productive seasons being back in 2016 and 2017.

Brate brings Super Bowl experience and could be a solid weapon in Zac Taylor’s offense.

With Aaron Rodgers potentially leaving the Packers, Marcedes Lewis could be an option, as well.

Lewis is much older at 38 years old but still has gas in the tank. The veteran has tallied over 5,000 receiving yards and 39 touchdowns in his long career but is known for his blocking capabilities.

Bring someone out of retirement

I am only joking about this... but not really.

Rob Gronkowski and Tyler Eifert are both retired tight ends that have joked about returning to the game on social media to play with Joe Burrow.

Although these names are highly unlikely, it is still fun to think about the idea of Gronk in stripes or Eifert returning to the Jungle.

Here is the pitch needed to get these guys in the building: You can play with Joe Burrow.

Easy enough, right?