The Cincinnati Bengals and their fans now have their sights set on the offseason. It will be a particularly hard one as some big names and fan favorites are currently set to hit the open market.
However, there are some that are confused about who’s set to hit the open market. Wide receiver Tee Higgins is probably the prime example, as he isn’t set to hit free agency until 2024.
Here is a list of the players who are currently slated to be free agents in the 2023 offseason (via Over The Cap), as well as a rundown on what we could expect to see happen.
- Jessie Bates, safety
- Germaine Pratt, linebacker
- Vonn Bell, safety
- Eli Apple, cornerback
- Tre Flowers, cornerback
- Max Scharping, offensive lineman
- Hayden Hurst, tight end
- Drew Sample, tight end
- Mitchel Wilcox, tight end (Restricted free agent)
- Michael Thomas, safety
- Samaje Perine, running back
- Trent Taylor, wide receiver/returner
- Brandon Allen, quarterback
- Clark Harris, long snapper
- Cal Adomitis, long snapper (Exclusive rights free agent)
- Jalen Davis, cornerback (RFA)
- Trayveon Williams, running back
- Chris Lammons, cornerback
- Joe Bachie, linebacker (RFA)
- Clay Johnston, linebacker (RFA)
- Elijah Holyfield, running back (ERFA)
Restricted free agents are given a certain contract tender that comes with draft compensation if another team chooses to sign them.
Exclusive rights free agents are extended a qualifying offer by their team and then are unable to negotiate with other teams.
The big names on the list mostly come from the defensive side of the ball. The most obvious situation is Bates probably moving on. He can get a bigger contract than what the Bengals — who are gearing up for life with a top quarterback contract on their cap — can afford to give him. Once Bates signed his franchise tag and the two sides couldn’t agree on a long-term solution that worked for both sides, this became a farewell season for the talented safety.
Pratt falls into potentially unfortunate territory. He should end up being one of the top linebackers on the market, but Cincinnati has simply set themselves up with plenty of young talent behind him.
Logan Wilson is the centerpiece of the position, but they also have guys like Akeem Davis-Gaither and Markus Bailey. Whether those two can fill the void that will be left by one of the most intelligent defenders on the field will probably have to be seen.
It isn’t all bad news. There are players like Bell, Apple, Hurst, and Perine who will likely fit into that roughly $45 million cap space. They aren’t all the most exciting re-signs, but as depth pieces, they could be vital.
We also will probably see Sample return on a one-year deal after he missed almost all of last season due to injury. Most of the other names as well will probably be back unless Cincinnati chooses to shake up some of their depth players as well.