This year will be a crucial season for a handful of Cincinnati Bengals players. Those whose contracts expire at the 2022 season will be keen to either earn a new deal or highlight their value ahead of free agency.
While the Bengals will be more concerned about re-signing headline players like Joe Burrow and Tee Higgins next offseason, they will have several decisions on lower profile names.
Finding a balance between keeping a team that reached the Super Bowl in 2022 together and freeing up the money to bring back the star performers will be a delicate job. Let’s look at the players currently set to test the market.
All stats are provided by Pro Football Reference unless noted.
Germaine Pratt could lose out to younger players at linebacker
Germaine Pratt was a third-round selection out of NC State in the 2019 NFL Draft. He has proven to be a good value, making yearly strides, culminating in his best performance to date last season.
Pratt played a pivotal role next to Logan Wilson on the second level of the Bengals’ defense. He totaled 120 tackles on the season and two interceptions, the second securing Cincinnati’s first playoff win in 31 years. The play will forever be ingrained in Bengals folklore, meaning Pratt will always hold a special place in fans’ minds.
Even though Pratt converted from safety to linebacker in college, he has become known more as a downhill thumper for the Bengals. Ultimately that could be part of the reason he moves on. The more athletic Akeem Davis-Gaither took on more third-down responsibilities last season, and that role could expand to earlier downs.
Verdict: The Bengals will likely have to stump up big money for Logan Wilson at the position, so the hope will be that Davis-Gaither can build up to a full-time role and Pratt will be sacrificed to seek a more lucrative deal elsewhere.