This is partially due to the free agents the team has been able to land over the last few seasons, as well as drafting well, but much of it has to do with the Bengals having superstars like Joe Burrow, Tee Higgins, and Ja’Marr Chase on their rookie contracts, making them cheaper.
According to Pro Football Focus, the Bengals are in first place in the league when it comes to salary cap health heading into the 2023 season, but challenges are on the horizon.
“Cincinnati remains atop our list for the second year in a row, which is not an easy accomplishment,” wrote PFF’s Brad Spielberger. “But the major financial changes on the horizon are evidenced by the Bengals ranking 25th in 2024 free agent valuation. The number is largely carried by wide receiver Tee Higgins and interior defender D.J. Reader, but decision on the fifth-year option tackle Jonah Williams and pending free agents in cornerback Chidobe Awuzie and wide receiver Tyler Boyd are all coming soon.”
The Bengals have benefited from young stars being on cheap deals, but that is going to change when Burrow signs his extension. What is left over will hopefully be enough to retain Higgins and Reader, but also linebacker Logan Wilson is also entering the last year of his rookie deal as well.
It’s unclear as to whether or not the Bengals will be able to retain anyone other than Burrow, but if they don’t Spielburger doesn’t think the team will suffer greatly.
“Fortunately, the Bengals have done a great job of adding talent in the draft that can be expected to take over top roles, which will help to balance out the monster deal coming for quarterback Joe Burrow and whoever else remains,” he wrote.
The Bengals have done a good job of keeping as much money as they possibly could on hand, knowing that Burrow is going to sign potentially the most expensive contract in the history of the NFL. That contract is coming, possibly any day, and when it does, we’ll have a much better idea at who will be on the team heading into the 2024 season.