NFL Offseason Previews: Cincinnati Bengals

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NFL Offseason Previews: Cincinnati Bengals


The NFL offseason is upon us and teams will begin working to craft their 2023 rosters in the coming months. In this series of offseason previews we will take a look at what each team has to work with and what their biggest needs are. Today we begin with the Cincinnati Bengals offseason preview.

As a reminder, here are dates to keep in mind for the 2023 NFL offseason:

  • March 7: deadline for teams to use the franchise tag.
  • March 13: legal tampering period opens.
  • March 15: NFL free agency begins and the new league year starts.
  • April 21: deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets.
  • April 27-29: NFL Draft
  • May 1: deadline for teams to exercise 5th-year options on 2020 first-round draft picks.
  • July 15: deadline for franchise tag players to sign an extension.

You can find previous teams offseason previews here: Bears |

2022 Summary

The Joe Burrow era in Cincinnati of off to a smashing start. A Super Bowl appearance, back-to-back division titles, and AFC Championship appearances are better than the Bengals could have dreamed of in Burrow’s two full seasons.

But now the Bengals have to pay Burrow. Burrow is eligible for a fifth-year option this offseason, but many believe an extension is coming. Once the Bengals extend Burrow, the tricky part is keeping a team around him that is good enough to keep the good times rolling in Cincinnati.

Key Positional Needs

Here’s where the Bengals need to find help this offseason:

  • TE
  • IOL
  • CB
  • S
  • OT

Key Free Agents

Here’s a look at the Bengals upcoming key free agents:

  • Jessie Bates III (S)
  • Vonn Bell (S)
  • Hayden Hurst (TE)
  • Eli Apple (CB)
  • Samaje Perine (RB)
  • Germaine Pratt (LB)

Salary Cap & Draft Capital

Here’s a look at the salary cap room and draft capital that the Bengals have to work with this offseason:

  • Current draft picks: 28 (1), 60 (2), 92 (3), 131 (4), 165 (5), 206 (6), 248 (7)
  • Cap space: $35.6M

Offseason Outlook

The Bengals have one of the better salary cap situations in the league heading into free agency. However, a large portion of that is going to Joe Burrow. So, Cincinnati has to hit the rest of the offseason on the head.

Who stays, who goes, how they draft, etc., will be the most crucial next steps for the Bengals. There will be eyebrow-raising cap casualties. Jessie Bates III is one that I expect to be playing elsewhere next season. Cincinnati has Dax Hill waiting in the wings at that position. Those will be the types of draft and develop stories that will make or break the Bengals’ run atop the AFC north.

Burrow isn’t the last big extension conversation they will have to have, so this offseason is crucial. They have drafted exceptionally well the last three years, and they’ll have to draft two to three (or more) regular contributors again this season as they’ve done since Zac Taylor has been in town.

I would expect Hayden Hurts, Eli Apple, and Germaine Pratt to follow Bates out the door in favor of more cost-effective players, whether via free agency or the draft.

Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is the Lead NFL Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.