8. Eli Apple
What started as a nightmare for Eli Apple has now ended with him being one of the better cornerbacks in the league. Not only has Apple put himself on the map with his play but his trash talk game is top-notch.
A former first-round pick, the Bengals are Apple’s fourth team since entering the league in 2016 and it’s the best he’s looked. He finished the regular season on a high note and has held his own against opponents in the postseason. That paired with other teams perhaps not being interested in his diva antics could keep Apple in the Queen City and Bengals fans would be thrilled if that’s the case.
7. Trey Hopkins
This time last year, fans were hoping Trey Hopkins would be healthy enough to start the season as the team’s starting center. Fast forward to present day and Hopkins has greatly disappointed during the 2021 season.
If the Bengals keep Hopkins for the 2022 season, they’ll take a $7 million cap hit whereas releasing him would only account for $1 million in dead money. This is an important tidbit for the team as they’ll be looking to put together the best o-line that money can buy in the offseason. Getting rid of Hopkins is the start of that journey.
The only reason Cincy keeps Hopkins is if they don’t find a center worthy of replacing him but whether it’s free agency or the draft, that seems unlikely.