The Cincinnati Bengals will have quite a few holes to fill in free agency after this coming season with several of their own players potentially looking for contracts elsewhere.
As a team that doesn’t like to go into the NFL Draft with obvious needs, they often sign mid-tier free agents at positions of need to keep the draft options wide open, though they have shown more of a willingness in recent years to pursue higher-tier names like DJ Reader, Orlando Brown Jr., and Trey Hendrickson.
Texans DTs Teair Tart and Sheldon Rankins
These are two players who I have lumped together because they fill a similar role. The Bengals desperately need some talent at defensive tackle. Both Rankins and Tart fill that need in some way.
Both are more of a pass rusher than they are a run defender and struggle with consistency. However, their pass rush ability is something no one on the Bengals’ current DT depth chart offers, and pairing them with more of a run-stopper signing would help the DT rotation greatly.
Rankins is a little older and more experienced and probably a bit more expensive while Tart is a younger player who will likely be looking for a longer contract and is still a bit unknown.
The Bengals actually tried to claim Tart when he was waived by the Titans in December, so there’s already been some interest in him.
Texans CB Steven Nelson
The Bengals will likely be losing Chidobe Awuzie in free agency, and while they have a potential future starter in DJ Turner to pair with Cam Taylor-Britt, they will want someone to back them up on the outside. Especially with Ivey coming back from a torn ACL and potentially not available to start the year, adding a reliable veteran on the outside would be very valuable.
Nelson is older at 30 years of age, but has been a generally solid player over his career and should be a cheap cornerback option for the Bengals.
Texans TE Dalton Schultz
The Bengals got a pleasant surprise with Tanner Hudson in 2023, but even with him and Sample potentially being re-signed ahead of free agency, the Bengals badly need a consistent TE1. Sample is not a very good receiver, and Hudson is a terrible blocker and also fairly old, especially considering his recent breakout.
Having a tight end who is both a solid receiver and at least an average blocker would be incredibly valuable for the Bengals, and Schultz fits both perfectly. He would be a fairly pricey addition after having another solid season this time in Houston, but adding a quality tight end could really improve the Bengals passing and run game.
Browns DTs Maurice Hurst and Shelby Harris
Another pairing of defensive tackles. Two more mid-tier free agent defensive tackles who should be fairly cheap but would be much better than the Bengal's depth. Both are likely around the same price, but Harris is much older than Hurst, turning 33 right around the start of the season. He hasn’t shown much sign of slowing down, though he is still turning in solid years in his 30s so far. In his prime, he was one of the better defensive tackles in the league, and his highs have been better than Maurice Hurst. Choosing between the two, you would be betting whether Harris can keep up solid play into his mid-30s or not, but either one should be an upgrade on the Bengal's current DT depth.
Who would you like the Bengals to add in NFL free agency from these players? I think adding two of these tackles as free agents would greatly help the defense, even if Reader is brought back.
Give us your thoughts in the comments section!