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Bengals get great value on Irv Smith Jr. and Sidney Jones contracts

While the true measure of his value will be on the field, it appears the Irv Smith Jr. contract is a win for Cincinnati.

NFL: JAN 15 NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Giants at Vikings Photo by Bailey Hillesheim/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Cincinnati Bengals watched numerous contributors walk in the 2023 NFL free-agency period.

Fan favorites like Hayden Hurst and Jessie Bates III, along with fellow starting safety Vonn Bell, left for more desirable contracts, the first and last heading to Carolina with Bates III taking his talents to Atlanta.

That created a void with the Bengals at the tight end position.

Hurst and even the third-string tight end Mitchell Wilcox both were not retained. What Duke Tobin and company did was sign Vikings tight end Irv Smith Jr. to a one-year deal which is worth $1.75 million with a chance of hitting $2 million.

Field Yates, of NFL Network, tweeted out the details and noted the value for the Bengals.

Then at cornerback, the Bengals, for now, opted not to re-sign starter Eli Apple or key backup Tre Flowers.

Instead, they went out and signed one of the better corners left on the open market in Sidney Jones.

As it turns out, the Bengals also got great value with his deal. KPRC 2’s Aaron Wilson reports that the Bengals signed him to a similar deal that pays him just over $1 million.

Smith Jr. ended last season with 182 yards and two touchdowns. He played in just eight games, so availability could be an issue. In his rookie season, Smith Jr. did finish with snaps in all 16 games and had 311 receiving yards. He was the Vikings’ second-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, coming out of Alabama.

That said, I wouldn’t expect a ton of production from Smith Jr. He will certainly be a nice weapon, but even Hurst, who felt frequently involved, only ended last season with 414 receiving yards and 52 receptions.

Smith Jr. stands 6-foot-2 and has the ability to make explosive plays, which will undoubtedly suit him well alongside Joe Burrow.

Smith Jr.’s best season, of the three in Minnesota, concluded with 365 yards on just 30 receptions. He can make big plays, and that’s going to be huge for a team that will undoubtedly have so much of the defense’s attention on the wide receivers.

As for Jones, he won’t be a starter as long as Chidobe Awuzie, Cam Taylor-Britt, and Mike Hilton are healthy, but he could become a valuable backup in a pass-happy NFL in which there is no such thing as too many cornerbacks.