After a few free agent signings, including Orlando Jones Jr., many Cincinnati Bengals fans thought the team was done until the NFL Draft was over. However, the front office went through another wave of signings, bringing in tight end Irv Smith Jr. and cornerback Sidney Jones.
We’re a month away from the 2023 NFL Draft, and the Bengals roster is taking shape.
So far in free agency, they’ve lost:
- FS Jessie Bates III
- SS Vonn Bell
- TE Hayden Hurst
- RB Samaje Perine
They have retained:
- OG Max Scharping
- WR Trent Taylor
- S Michael Thomas
- CB Jalen Davis
- LB Germaine Pratt
- RB Trayveon Williams
- LB Joe Bachie
- LS Cal Adomitis
Finally, they have signed:
- OT Orlando Brown Jr.
- OL Cody Ford
- CB Sidney Jones
- SS Nick Scott
- TE Irv Smith Jr.
- OT Jonah Williams
After signing Brown Jr., Ford, and Scott early, the Bengals looked like they may wait until closer to the draft, or after it was over, to address the glaring need at tight end and depth at some other positions, but they signed cornerback Jones and, most recently, tight end Smith Jr.
Obviously, the big signing so far this offseason has been left tackle, Brown Jr. Even though the Bengals went all out on revamping the offensive line before the 2022 season, Burrow was still sacked 41 times in the regular season and 10 times in the playoffs, including five times against the Chiefs in the AFC Championship game. The line started playing better after they played together a few times, but left tackle Williams, right tackle La’el Collins and right guard Alex Cappa were injured late in the season and missed time.
The Brown Jr. signing shores up the left tackle position and, even though Williams has requested a trade in the wake of losing his position and being moved to right tackle, the offensive line is still better today than it was at any point last season. Retaining Scharping and signing Ford will give them the depth they lacked last year. It’s clear the team doesn’t want the offensive line to be an issue anymore.
The Bengals then focused on another glaring need in the secondary by signing Scott to take Bell’s strong safety position. The Bengals planned ahead for losing Bates by drafting Dax Hill in the first round in 2022, and he and Scott will take over as the starting safeties moving forward. We could also see some Tycen Anderson, who was also drafted by the Bengals in 2022 but missed most of the season with a hamstring injury.
Signing Jones and re-signing Davis adds depth to a cornerback room that badly needed it. Chidobe Awuzie is entering the last year of his contract with the Bengals, and he is coming off a season-ending ACL tear. There also wasn’t a lot of depth at the position behind Cam Taylor-Britt, the team’s other outside corner, and Mike Hilton in the slot.
Finally, with the only tight end on the roster with game experience being Devin Asiasi, the Bengals’ biggest hole heading into the end of March was definitely tight end. Then late Monday night, news broke they had agreed to a one-year deal with free agent Smith Jr. He fits into the recent trend of a one-year deal at tight end that could be turned into a multi-year deal, possibly for another team, if Smith Jr. produces the same way C.J. Uzomah and Hurst did.
It’s currently unclear what the Bengals will do at running back and right tackle if they do anything. Many believe Joe Mixon will be cut after June 1, saving the Bengals a little over $10 million, and if the team trades Williams, they will shed his $12.6 million guaranteed salary. However, they’re not required to cut or trade anyone, and they could walk into Week 1 with Mixon and Williams still not only on the roster but in starting positions.
With a month until the draft, if the Bengals plan on keeping Mixon and Williams, there aren’t any glaring holes on the roster. There are spots that could be upgraded, for sure, and there still might be some more free agency signings in the coming days.
As things stand right now, what grade would you give the team so far this offseason?
What grade have the Bengals earned so far this offseason?
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