Kicking the need for a tight end a year down the line finally caught up with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2023, as their one-year-prove-it-deal veteran proved nothing except that they made a bad decision to sign him.
- Irv Smith Jr.
- Tanner Hudson
- Drew Sample
For the second year in a row, the Bengals declined to draft a tight end in what was widely viewed as a very deep class.
Veteran Irv Smith was supposed to make himself a lot of money just like Hayden Hurst did in his one year in the Queen City, but that did not work out as planned.
Instead, journeyman practice squader and preseason all-star Tanner Hudson emerged as a solid player at the tight end position. Hudson hauled in 39 receptions for 352 yards and 1a touchdown on the year.
The Bengals also brought back veteran Drew Sample, who played a large role as a blocker and caught 22 passes for 163 yards and two touchdowns of his own.
All in all, the position was not a determent, but they certainly weren’t making a difference either.
While I am of the belief that the tight end position is not essential to this offense and the need for a playmaking tight end can be at times overstated, clearly action must be taken address the position this offseason.
Both Hudson and Sample could be hitting the open market. Free agency offers a plethora of other options, including fan-favorites Noah Fant and Gerald Everett, the latter of whom’s time with the Rams overlapped with Zac Taylor.
Dalton Schultz and Mike Gesicki each have their own unique appeal but may carry a price tag that is a bit too high for a team looking to re-up Tee Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase in the next few years. Austin Hooper and Hunter Henry could be options for the team as well, but both are pushing 30.
Of course, the dream is to draft George’s Brock Bowers, but he will likely be long gone by the time the Bengals pick comes up. The next couple of guys I would consider are Ohio State’s Cade Stover and Florida State’s Jaheim Bell. Both could be difference-makers in this passing game.