3 difficult decisions the Bengals will need to make in 2023 offseason
The Safety Conundrum
The general consensus on what the Bengals are going to do with their safeties this offseason among the fanbase is they're going to let Bates walk, re-sign Vonn Bell, and have Dax Hill develop alongside the Ohio State product.
It makes sense, after all. Bates is going to get paid, whether that be with Cincy or somewhere else. They're going to need a vet to help Hill become a solid piece on this defense, and they have one in Bell. Simple, right?
Well, maybe not so much.
I don't think Bell is going to cost too much to the point where the Bengals consider re-signing him but with potentially record-setting contracts on the horizon, there is a chance they have trouble giving the Ohio State product what he wants and deserves, not to mention the possibility they let him walk and retain Bates, although I personally think that's unlikely.
Still, it's a possibility and an option they might just consider. Bates is younger than his counterpart and he technically hasn't entered his prime yet. At his peak, you can make the case that the former Demon Deacon is a top five -- even top three -- safety in the league. Do they sign him with the thought that he hasn't reached his full potential yet?
It's easy to say that Bates is as good as gone if you're just watching the Bengals, but you never really know what is going through the minds of those who structure these contracts and decide who and who not to sign. Like with Mixon, this decision is going to be much more difficult than fans are making it out to be.