3 noteworthy Cincinnati Bengals slated to hit free agency in 2023
1. Jessie Bates
Obviously, Jessie Bates is going to be the top entry on this list. He’s been the face of the biggest offseason storyline for Cincinnati so why shouldn’t he be in this No. 1 spot?
The Bengals spent a second-round pick on Bates in the 2018 NFL Draft and he emerged as one of their best players on the entire team, not just on the defensive side of the ball. After the team extended Sam Hubbard last summer, Bengals players were hoping that Bates would be next but that never happened.
What followed was the worst regular season of Bates’ pro career. He ended the season with a PFF grade of 56.1 but he made up for the lackluster regular season with his play in the postseason. PFF gave him a 90.0 grade during the playoffs, indicating just how solid he was during that time.
While Cincinnati slapped Bates with the franchise tag, the former second-round pick has insisted that he won’t play on it. That wouldn’t benefit Bates but if he’s serious, the best choice for the Bengals would be to either sign him to a long-term deal or trade him.
Either way, Jessie Bates is the most noteworthy Bengal hitting free agency next offseason. We’ll see if he’s still a Bengal when the 2022 season gets underway.