Another incredible seasons fell just short as once again the OL was pitiful and held back the offense. However the superbowl window is WIDE open next year and this coming year is probably going to be the best of the Burrow era so far. Love talking to other Bengals fans in these threads and with a superbowl so close I am excited to see what the Bengals do to get over the hump. Gonna break down a few different areas.
Positional Unit outlook(pre-free agency)
- QB-Burrow enters year 4 being a top 3 QB without question. The Bengals are going to extend him this offseason and the big contract will be spread over rookie year 4 and 5th year option. Would love to see an upgrade over Brandon Allen but dont want to spend any money or draft capital on it so idk.
- RB-Mixon and Chris Evans return and in the end I dont think this is a position of strength. They are spending a lot of money on a RB that cant be on the field for passing downs because of not being able to block. Mixon only played 35% of snaps against the Chiefs.
- WR-The big 3 are all back and from everything I have seen there is a 0% chance any are traded despite other fan bases wanting it to happen. Most likely scenario moving forward is Chase extended, Boyd let walk, Tee franchised next offseason and then walks. Very clear they need a real WR4. Chiefs simply double Chase/Higgins and left Irwin/Hurst/Perrine in 1 on 1s the second half and the offense couldnt do anything. Also need to prep for the future.
- TE-Just an empty room. Need a starter and a TE2. I imagine they go FA and draft at this position.
- IOL-Karras/Cappa at C/RG were studs. Fantastic signing and looking forward to a 2nd year. LG Cordell Volson was a big surprise as a rookie. Turned out to be an average guard out of the 4th round and an FCS school. Hoping he can take a step up in year 2.
- OT-This position is a bit of a disaster. Jonah Williams gave up the most sacks in the league this year while Lael Collins was a big dissapointment while fighting a back injury all year. Now Collins has to recover from a major knee injury and Jonah is locked in to a 5th year option. A lot of money is being spent on 2 bad OTs. Have to address the position for this year and the future but also cant sink a ton of resources here, need one of them to improve.
- DE- Hendrickson/Hubbard are both locked up for 2+ more years and Ossai really came on at the end of the year. Cam Sample a good back up. Very good unit
- DT-DJ Reader and BJ Hill a really good pair of starters and Zac Carter also really came on to end the year. Very good unit although hoping for a more consistent pass rush.
- LB-Logan Wilson returns and ADG is here as a passing down LB. Need to go find another LB in free agency
- CB-Chidobe Awuzie returns from injury and Cam Taylor Britt turned into a stud. Mike Hilton is also back in the slot. This is a very good unit.
- S-Scariest position as both Bates and Bell are gone. Dax Hill is expected to slide into Bates role and has shown elite athleticism and man skills but we just havent seen him play safety yet. Need to also find a new SS.
Free Agents(Needs: SS, LB, TE)
- Cap Situation-Bengals are $44 million under the official cap. Expected to extend Burrow which will eat into that some. Should be about $30M to spend
- Jessie Bates-Sadly he is gone. Dax Hill was drafted to replace him and he is too expensive to keep. Good safety who loved playing in Cincy. Wish the math would have worked out to keep him but it just doesnt.
- Germaine Pratt- Dude went wild in his contract year and played himself into major money. Going to be the top off ball LBs in free agency and will get paid. He will be gone as well, cant sink a ton of money into LB and they want to keep Wilson.
- Vonn Bell-A solid SS and a real candidate to return. Bengals wont want two inexperienced safeties and Vonn shouldnt be too expensive.
- Eli Apple-Under rated corner who played a lot of solid snaps on a cheap deal. Hopefully Bengals can bring him back as the top back up on a cheap deal. Fantastic bargain but wont be heartbroken if they dont get the deal done
- Hayden Hurst-The 29 year old bet on himself and it seems to have paid off with a productive year in Cincy. In 13 regular season game he had 414 yards and was also productive in the playoffs. Bengals want him back but at his age he has never had a big payday so I imagine he is going for the biggest contract possible
- Samaje Perrine-Perfect example of what the Bengals should look like at RB. Perrine fits his role perfectly, was tough and productive, and was piad less than $2M. Hope he is back as RB2 on a cheap deal.
Draft-No short term needs but long term OT/WR/TE/RB/DT/CB are all needed. The point of drafting now is to replace good veterans with good players on cheap deals. My mock using PFF:
- 1st-Anton Harison OT Oklahoma-One of the big 4 OTs drop to me. Leaving as a junior he gave up 3 sacks after starting every game the past 2 years. A better pass blocker than run blocker but this is a homerun.
- 2nd- Jalin Hyatt WR Tennessee-Super productive speed threat. This is a very realistic target in this spot. Hyatt's weakness is he is really small and may have to stick in the slot. Still his speed is something Boyd doesnt have and he can be the slot of the future after carving a role this year
- 3rd- Clark Phillips CB Utah-Would be thrilled with this and its probably a realistic pick. Phillips is an awesome corner but at just 5'10" he is going to be stuck in the slot. Phillips will come in as a top back up before taking over Mike Hiltons spot in 2024.
- 4th-Chase Brown RB Illinois-Mixon era may only have 1 year left and Chris Evans doesnt seem to be poised to take a significant role. Brown could provide depth before being a big piece moving forward.