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What other Bengals could/should be extended before the season begins?

Here are a few other Bengals players that could get extended before the 2023 NFL season begins.

NFL: OCT 23 Falcons at Bengals Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Cincinnati Bengals announced on Thursday they extended defensive end Trey Hendrickson for one year through the 2025 season, and in doing so, created more cap space to extend more players this summer, though the exact details of the extension have yet to be disclosed.

Hendrickson was due $15.4 million in 2023 and $17.5 million in 2024, and sliding some of that money to 2025 will help the team keep more talent in Cincinnati.

Let’s take a look at who else the team could, and should, attempt to extend as they continue through training camp.

Joe Burrow, Quarterback

Status: The Bengals picked up the star quarterback’s fifth-year option, meaning they at least have him under contract for the 2023 and 2024 seasons.

Why they should extend him: Really? You know why.

Chances he gets extended: 100 percent. Be patient. It’s going to happen

Tee Higgins, Wide Receiver

Status: The talented wide receiver is entering a contract year, as he was a second-round pick and is ineligible for a fifth-year option. The team could use the franchise tag on him in 2024, but outside of that, without an extension, he’ll be playing elsewhere next year.

Why they should extend him: Higgins is the true No. 1 wide receiver on almost every team in the NFL with the exception of the Bengals and maybe the Vikings (Justin Jefferson.... there’s something about those LSU wide receivers). He helps Ja’Marr Chase by forcing defenses to pay attention to both receivers, and he has been incredible when Chase has missed time.

Chances he gets extended: 50 percent. The wide receiver market is nuts. Last season, Davante Adams signed a five-year, $140 million contract, and both Tyreek Hill and A.J. Brown signed deals worth north of $100 million. Higgins is worth just as much. He and the team both know it. Keeping him around will all depend on what kind of deal they give Burrow, and what kind of cap magic they can pull. However, if forced to choose between Higgins and Chase, I have a feeling they go Chase.

Tyler Boyd, Wide Receiver

Status: After signing a four-year $43 million contract before the 2019 season, Boyd is also entering his contract year. He is the last puzzle piece that makes the Bengals wide receivers the best group in the league, and as the team’s slot receiver, has been one of the most consistent performers on offense.

Why they should extend him: It would be cool to see the Bengals keep the big three together, but Boyd will be 29 this year.

Chances he gets extended: Zero. While I’d love to see him finish his career in Cincinnati where it started, I believe the Bengals selected Charlie Jones out of Purdue as the heir apparent to the offense’s slot receiver position.

Jonah Williams, Offensive Tackle

Status: Williams was the Bengals’ first-round pick out of Alabama in the 2019 NFL Draft, and spent the first four years of his career as the team’s starting left tackle. The Bengals picked up his fifth-year options but signed Orlando Brown Jr, naming him the new left tackle, and slid Williams to right tackle. This year is his last under contract.

Why they should extend him: Williams struggled at times in 2022, which drove the Bengals to sign Brown. After moving him to right tackle, Williams demanded a trade, but the team didn’t balk. Williams is expected to compete for, and probably win, the starting right tackle job this offseason.

Chances he gets extended: Zero percent. Even if Williams becomes one of the best right tackles in the NFL, he likely wants to play left tackle somewhere else. The Bengals will look for his replacement after the 2023 season comes to an end.

D.J. Reader, Defensive Tackle

Status: Reader signed a four-year, $53 million deal as a free agent with the Bengals before the 2020 season and has been a force as a run-stopper in the middle of the defensive line. He is entering his contract year and accounts for a whopping $15.5 million against the cap this season.

Why they should extend him: Reader has been one of the best nose tackles in the NFL over the last couple of years. One of the major reasons for the success of linebackers Logan Wilson and Germaine Pratt is because Reader is in front of them while taking on multiple blockers and somehow still making plays. Defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo’s system relies so heavily on Reader, and the whole front seven is a different unit without him.

Chances he gets extended: 25 percent. While the Bengals would undoubtedly love to keep Reader for the rest of his career, the defensive tackle market is big right now. Chris Jones is refusing to report to training camp until he gets a new contract, and Quinnen Williams just signed a four-year, $96 million deal with the Jets. Williams is four years younger than Reader, but Javon Hargrave, who is actually a year older, signed a four-year $84 million deal. The Bengals would like to extend Reader to lower his cap hit this season, but I’m not so sure they’ll be able to pony up that much money to keep him around for a few more years.

Chidobe Awuzie, Cornerback

Status: Awuzie signed a three-year, $21.75 million contract with the Bengals as a free agent heading into the 2021 season and is also entering a contract year. He was very good as a starter in 2021 and helped the Bengals reach the Super Bowl, but was lost to a season-ending injury in 2022. He was, however, just given the green light for full participation in training camp.

Why they should extend him: The Bengals place a lot of importance on the cornerback position, which is evident by the way they draft and sign free agents. Awuzie is one of the best in the league at what he does, and he helps free up the front seven to do their thing.

Chances he gets extended: 10 percent. The Bengals signed Sidney Jones IV and used their second-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft to select DJ Turner. With Cam Taylor-Britt entering just his second season, the cornerback position is young and talented. If Awuzie demands a good chunk of change, the Bengals likely let him test the market.

Logan Wilson, Linebacker

Status: The Bengals selected Wilson in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft, and the talented linebacker is now entering his contract year and will be an unrestricted free agent following the 2023 season.

Why they should extend him: Wilson has developed into one of the best coverage linebackers in the NFL and absolutely deserves to be extended. He and Pratt make up one of the best groups of linebackers in the league, and keeping them both together would help the Bengals consistently field a solid front seven for the next few years. In his time with the Bengals, Wilson has made 256 tackles, 4.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, 11 pass deflections, and has intercepted seven passes, including one to help the Bengals beat the Titans in the divisional round of the playoffs, setting the Bengals up for a winning field goal to send them to the AFC Championship game.

Chances he gets extended: 60 percent. Outside of Roquan Smith’s $100 million contract, the linebacker market hasn’t exploded the way the defensive tackle market has. It would be easier to keep Wilson than Reader, but it all also depends on what kind of deal Burrow signs, and where they value Wilson in comparison to Higgins, Reader, and others.

Akeem Davis-Gaither, Linebacker

Status: ADG was selected in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft (what a draft class for the Bengals) and has spent his time as the third linebacker in their 4-3 base formation, which they rarely use, and other certain situations. He’s entering his contract year as well.

Why they should extend him: He’s a talented linebacker and has been a solid backup for Pratt and Wilson, as well as an excellent special teams player. If the Bengals fail to extend Wilson, extending ADG could be the next best thing.

Chances he gets extended: 20 percent. This all depends on what happens with Wilson. If the Bengals can’t reach an agreement to keep Wilson in stripes, they could try to extend ADG. However, if they do extend Wilson, ADG likely walks.

There are other pending free agents, but none have contributed at the level of the guys listed above. Which of these players do you think the Bengals will be able to extend? Which others that weren’t included could be kept around?