Bengals should hold onto defensive tackle B.J. Hill this free agency

Kristen Wong
B.J. Hill #92 of the Cincinnati Bengals. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
B.J. Hill #92 of the Cincinnati Bengals. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

The Cincinnati Bengals are supposed to be a top free agent destination this offseason, but one of their top defensive tackles may leave for greener pastures.

B.J. Hill, who is set to enter free agency in 2022, made a considerable impact in the interior defense in just one season in Cincy and could be a hot commodity.

Last offseason, Cincy received Hill as part of a trade that sent former first-rounder Billy Price to the New York Giants. While the Bengals ultimately won that trade by a landslide, they will have a tough time convincing Hill to stay in Cincy if the money’s not there.

This year’s free agency features very few talented defensive tackles, and after a Super Bowl-contending season with the Bengals last season, Hill will likely be sought out by every team in need of defensive reinforcements.

Cincinnati Bengals should fight for B.J. Hill in free agency

In 2021, Hill provided mainly depth behind D.J. Reader and Larry Ogunjobi, playing 16 games but starting just two. He recorded 5.5 sacks, 50 tackles, and 12 quarterback hits on the year and showed great promise at the position in blocking against the run and sealing the middle of the field.

When Ogunjobi got injured in the Bengals’ Wild Card round victory, Hill stepped up in the following three playoff games, nabbing a crucial interception against the Chiefs in the AFC Championship.

In 2022, Hill isn’t getting money anywhere close to the top dollar deals of say, D.J. Reader. As one of the league’s highest-paid defensive tackles, Reader rightfully deserves his four-year $53 million dollar contract after finishing as one of the Bengals’ highest graded players in 2021.

But Hill’s closest competition in free agency may be his fellow teammate, Larry Ogunjobi. Like Hill, Ogunjobi is also a pending free agent and will more than likely find another home by the start of the upcoming season. Of the two, Cincy may have a better chance at keeping Hill. He’s younger but relatively cheaper, can evolve into a starting-caliber defender in 2022, and hasn’t yet outpriced his stay in Cincinnati like Ogunjobi has.

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Losing both Ogunjobi and Hill would be the worst possible scenario for the team, and we have to imagine the Bengals will put aside money for re-signing at least one of them.