Salary cap space
As of March 17, 2021, the Bengals are projected to have $42,006,265 in cap space for 2021.
The Bengals rolled over $10.8 million in 2020 cap space.
March 10 update: The salary cap has been set at $182.5 million.
The Cincinnati Bengals started the season full of hope, buoyed by rookie quarterback Joe Burrow. The first pick in last year’s draft looked good too, giving fans there real excitement for the future. Unfortunately, the Bengals lost Burrow to a knee injury after 10 games. They went on to finish the season 4-11-1.
The work now turns toward building a contender around Burrow. That starts this offseason with more than $40 million in cap space.
The NFL powered through its 2020 season amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The league played without fans in most stadiums, and limited fans in a handful of locations. The decrease in gate revenue is going to result in a decrease in money shared between the 32 teams. This in turn means the salary cap has been decreased. The NFL has announced an official salary cap of $182.5 million, which is sure to result in some tough choices for many teams.
All salary cap information below comes courtesy of the NFLPA Public Salary Cap Report.
Cincinnati has needs across the board. The defense was one of the worst in the NFL this season, and its poised to lose two of its most viable starters in free agency this offseason, cornerback William Jackson and defensive end Carl Lawson. Re-signing those two won’t come cheap.
Defensive tackle Geno Atkins’ future with the team is another one of the most pressing offseason issues. One of the best to play the game, he was largely ineffective this season, and finally ended up on injured reserve. At 32 his best days are behind him, and the Bengals can’t really afford to hang onto him and his $14.7 million cap hit this year. Cutting him would free up $9.5 million in cap space. Doing it with a post-June 1 designation would give them $12.1 million.
Tight end C.J. Uzomah’s season ended after just two games. In his place, Drew Sample looked more than capable of handling the workload. Uzomah is in the last year of his contract, and cutting him would save the Bengals more than $5 million in cap space. As much as the Bengals need offensive line help, they won’t lose anything by cutting right tackle Bobby Hart. Doing so would save them close to $6 million against the cap. Ditto left guard B.J. Finney who would save $3.5 million against the cap. With that money, the Bengals could chase some of the better linemen available in free agency.