Bengals Free Agency

Stay or go: Projecting the Bengals top upcoming 2023 free agents

(Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
(Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /
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Vonn Bell, Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)
Vonn Bell, Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images) /

Vonn Bell’s leadership qualities could lead to a renewed deal

Arguably no position on the roster is facing a more extensive short-term overhaul than safety. The Bengals continue to make no progress with a Jessie Bates deal, with him likely to play on the tag in 2022 before becoming a free agent next spring. The other starter, Vonn Bell, will also see his contract expire after this year.

It was always likely the position would be addressed in the draft but surprising to see how that happened. Few expected the Bengals to find their long-term replacement in round 1, Daxton Hill, or to double dip later for Toledo’s Tycen Andersen.

Although those two will be the future of the backend of the Bengals’ defense, don’t dismiss Bell too soon. He was 26 when he signed his second career deal moving from New Orleans to Cincinnati. That contract, $18 million over three years, has proved good value.

Bell’s performances improved, including a recent jump in pass coverage ability, and he has become a vocal leader of this group. Finding those veteran voices was difficult for this coaching staff. There were early clashes with the likes of Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins, and they needed to find a new generation to buy into their vision.

Bell’s performances improved, including a recent jump in pass coverage ability, and he has become a vocal leader of this group. Finding those veteran voices was difficult for this coaching staff. There were early clashes with the likes of Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins, and they needed to find a new generation to buy into their vision.

Verdict: The Bengals will hope to find a digestible number for a new contract, where Bell’s role may diminish in terms of snaps, but they can maintain one of the more vital voices of the locker room.

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