3 former Cincinnati Bengals players we’re glad are gone, 3 we wish stayed

Looking back at some of the recent hits and misses from Bengals' free agency.

Cincinnati Bengals safety Jessie Bates III (30) takes the field during introductions before the
Cincinnati Bengals safety Jessie Bates III (30) takes the field during introductions before the / Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY
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Glad they're gone: Hayden Hurst, Tight end

Hayden Hurst played a single season with the Bengals in 2022, and he was pretty productive during his time with the team as he caught 52 passes for 414 yards and two touchdowns.

Hurst parlayed his productive play with the Bengals into a fresh three-year deal with the Carolina Panthers. At the time it felt like a loss, and the Bengals missed Hurst last season. But now, it seems like things worked out for the best. Hurst was limited to just 18 receptions for 184 yards and a touchdown in nine games in 2023, and the Panthers parted ways with him after a single season.

Hurst, 30, recently signed with the Los Angeles Chargers, with whom he'll look to author a bounce-back season. Meanwhile, after adding Mike Gesicki in free agency and re-signing Drew Sample and Tanner Hudson, the Bengals appear to be pretty set at the tight end position.

Wish they stayed: Jonah Williams, Offensive tackle

This one hurts because of how important the offensive line is to Cincinnati's success, and Williams did a solid job of protecting Joe Burrow's blindside over the first four seasons of his career while playing a ton of snaps.

Williams played 92 percent of all available snaps as a rookie. That number jumped up to 100 percent in each of the past three seasons. Williams was relaible, and a central figure on the o-line when the team went to consecutive AFC Championship games in 2021 and 2022.

The Bengals added Trent Brown following Williams' departure, but Williams is younger, and he's already familiar with the scheme in Cincinnati. His presence will be missed.

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