The two anchors of the Cincinnati Bengals secondary are both set to hit free agency later this month in safeties Vonn Bell and Jessie Bates.
With the likely scenario being one of the two leaves, defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo doesn’t even want to think about a Bengal defense without the elite duo.
“It would be huge,” Anarumo said at the NFL Combine this week. “You know, leadership too. Vonn and Jesse do a lot of things that people don’t see. They organize meetings on their own. So yeah, I’d rather not think about that dark day.”
Spotrac projects Bates to earn a $14 million annual salary and for Bell to land a $9.7 million per year deal.
Per OverTheCap, the Bengals currently have $35,553,058 in cap space, giving them the sixth most in the NFL, only behind the Bears, Falcons, Raiders, Giants, and Texans.
In an interview with SiriusXM, Bengals Director of Player Personnel Duke Tobin said the team would “spend to the cap’ this offseason.
“Our quarterback is the key,” Tobin said. “Our job is to facilitate his success in every way that we can and put the pieces around him. We’re gonna spend to the cap.”
Thus, keeping Bell and Bates to assure the Bengals still have an elite defense will likely be one of the front office’s goals, but filling other holes and bringing back other pending free agents could lead one of the defensive backs out of the team’s budget.