The Cincinnati Bengals are coming off a trip to the AFC Championship Game. The Kansas City Chiefs finally got the better of Joe Burrow, but the future still looks bright for the Bengals in the AFC North. The defense is going to take a hit with free agency, but Cincinnati should be able to be players in free agency to make up for it.
Cincinnati Bengals free agency preview
Positional needs: S, CB, TE, LB, RB depth
The positional needs are directly linked to players they are losing in free agency. Safety Vonn Bell and S Jessie Bates III could be the best pair of safeties to hit free agency. The Bengals may end up keeping one with the franchise tag, but Bates is due a payday. Eli Apple, Hayden Hurst, Mitchell Wilcox, Samaje Perine and Germaine Pratt are all hitting free agency and need to be replaced.
Players to target
Let’s just say that the Bengals end up moving away from both Bell and Bates, despite that being a bold move. The top of their target list for safeties should be Marcus Epps, Tashaun Gipson, Juan Thornhill, Adrian Amos, or Taylor Rapp. They could end up going for multiple safeties, pairing a veteran on a one-year deal with a longer deal for a guy like Thornhill. At corner, a resurgent James Bradberry could be worth signing, or they could bring in Michael Jackson Sr. or Jonathan Jones.
Several mock drafts have Cincinnati addressing their tight end need in the draft. This is shaping up to be a pretty strong class for the position, so it isn’t crazy to think that they will use the pick at No. 29 to select a franchise tight end. If they want to bring in a free agent, a guy like Dalton Schultz or Evan Engram would only give quarterback Joe Burrow even more targets in the offense.
Joe Mixon may not be with the team next season if he won’t take a pay cut. Grabbing a running back in the draft makes sense, but adding a complementary back like Jerick McKinnon would be useful. A linebacker like Alez Anzalone or T.J. Edwards would be a great addition to the defense if the team chooses to let Pratt walk.