Cincinnati Bengals Free Agency 2023
The Cincinnati Bengals saw their season end at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship game. The team went 12-4 and will be looking to make moves this offseason to get back to the Super Bowl as they did in 2021. Here’s a look at what you need to know about Cincinnati Bengals free agency.
2023 Free Agents Overview for the Bengals
Most of the buzz will surround free safety Jessie Bates III. He’s probably the best NFL free agent target at his position. Bates has missed just two games overall in his five-year career. Linebacker Germaine Pratt had a strong 2022 season while playing in the final year of his rookie contract.
The Bengals’ defense is seeing the potential departures hitting heavily at linebacker. They also lose quite a few players in the secondary. Safety Vonn Bell and cornerback Eli Apple also have expiring contracts.
Third-down running back Samaje Perine will also attract some attention. He had a solid season finishing the year with 681 yards from scrimmage and six touchdowns. The Bengals could potentially cut veteran starting running back Joe Mixon.
It would save the franchise around $10 million. Mixon averaged just 58.1 yards per game last season. Running back depth might be a focus for the team with so much uncertainty.
Tight end Hayden Hurst was on pace to shatter career highs if he hadn’t missed games due to injury. He average 8.0 yards per catch last season.
Unrestricted Free Agents
An unrestricted free agent is a player who has his contract expire on March 15 and they are free to sign with any team. There are no restrictions involving qualifying offers or the franchise tag.
Here are the unrestricted FA that will have their contracts expire in the new league year for the Bengals.
Samaje Perine – RB
Trayveon Williams – RB
Wide Receivers and Tight Ends
Hayden Hurst – TE
Drew Sample – TE
Trent Taylor – WR
Centers, Guards, and Tackles
Max Scharping – G
Defensive tackles, Defensive Ends, Edge Rushers
Germaine Pratt – LB
Cornerbacks and Safeties
Eli Apple – CB
Jessie Bates III – S
Vonn Bell – SS
Jalen Davis – CB
Tre Flowers – CB
Chris Lammons – CB
Michael Thomas – FS
Clark Harris – LS
Restricted Free Agents
A restricted free agent can negotiate with teams but their current team can match any offer. This is possible if a qualifying offer is extended before March 15, 2023, at 4 p.m. eastern. Here are the restricted free agents for the Bengals.
Joe Bachie – LB
Clay Johnston – LB (exclusive restricted free agent)
Mitchell Wilcox – TE (exclusive restricted free agent)
Salary Cap and Roster
The 2023 salary cap is $224.8 million. That’s an increase of almost $20 million from the 2022 season. It will be interesting to see if the free agency signings reflect the increase in cap space across the league.
The Bengals are expected to have a decent amount of cap space. This should give the team a chance to make significant signings while bringing back critical and key players. In addition, the Bengals have the 28th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Cincinnati Bengals Free Agency 2023 FAQs
NFL free agency begins on March 15, 2023. The exact time is 4 p.m. eastern. All player contracts expire and the new league year begins.
An unrestricted FA is a player whose contract expires on March 15. They are free to negotiate with any team in the league without restrictions. He has no ties to his former team.
A restricted FA can be extended what is called a qualifying offer. If offered, they are still allowed to negotiate with other teams around the league. Their current team is allowed to match any offer.