For one reason or another, the Cincinnati Bengals had to part ways with these three players in the offseason. Their 2023 roster has paid the price, as these three players' departures have been sorely missed.
Let's take a look at three 2023 departures who the Bengals miss dearly.
Bell's departure was a bit surprising for Bengals fans. Everyone expected Jessie Bates to leave (more on Bates in a bit) but Bell actually left for Carolina before Bates had officially signed with the Falcons, which left everyone in the Jungle stunned.
Bell signed a three-year deal with the Panthers worth $22.5 million and has played well for his new team (even if the Panthers are struggling mightily). Meanwhile, the Bengals' secondary has not been the same without Bell. When he left, it meant that the starting safeties would both be new to Cincinnati and that has spelled disaster so far.
Explosive plays and tackling issues weren't an issue with Bell in town but by goly have they been a problem for this team in 2023. Anytime an opposing offense connects on a big play, Bengals fans are shaking their heads and wishing Vonn Bell was still donning the black and orange stripes.
While Samaje Perine's stats for this season aren't exactly mind-blowing, his absence in the Bengals offense has been sorely missed. The former Oklahoma running back was a huge piece in Cincinnati's run game last season, especially when Joe Mixon had to miss time.
Up until the Week 13 win over Jacksonville, however, the Bengals had not seen anything from any of the running backs behind Mixon on the depth chart. Chase Brown finally got a chance to shine so maybe Cincinnati finally has a surefire RB2 behind their long-time RB1 but what if it was just a one-time thing?
Perine was a nice player for Cincinnati during his time in the stripes and perhaps it wouldn't have taken until Week 13 for the Bengals' run game to get going had he still been in the Queen City.
The least surprising departure in the 2023 offseason was Jessie Bates, who signed a massive four-year deal worth $64 million with the Atlanta Falcons. The Bengals were never going to pay Bates that much money, hence why he was able to walk in free agency and get the bag.
Bates has balled out in Atlanta this year, sitting with an overall PFF grade of 90.4 and snagging five interceptions. The Bengals would certainly love to have Bates in their secondary right now considering what a game-changer he is and seeing how much the current unit is struggling.
That being said, we knew that Bates wouldn't be back so it's not as painful as watching him make big plays as it would have been had his departure been a surprise.
The Bengals could have strongly used any of these three players but having a new safety group has been the biggest adjustment and growing pain for the defense. The run game performed well this past week but can they keep it up and make Perine's presence in the offense look like a distant memory?