Making the Hard Cuts
Sometimes before you build back up, you have to tear down. Paying money to high-value positions and keeping two highly paid receivers happy will require some sacrifice. Some cuts are obvious.
Joe Mixon, who has been an upstanding citizen since being drafted by the Bengals, has run into some trouble. The timing could not be worse for Mixon as it also corresponds to his reduced effectiveness even against light boxes and outsized salary according to his contributions.
The Bengals simply can't afford to pay $12 million+ to a running back with Mixon's stats in today's NFL regardless of whether they have legal issues or not. Expect the cut to be made after June 1 or as a June 1 designation as it will give them additional salary cap relief.
The next obvious cut is La'el Collins, who was one of the prizes of last year's offseason. After being cut by Dallas he struggled in 2022 with a PFF grade of 54.9.
With a torn ACL and MCL, Collins has a question mark to even getting back to that effectiveness in 2023 and an unknown timeline on when. Jonah Williams, despite the trade request, is expected to compete at right tackle and Cody Ford was brought in to compete as well. That money can be used to help with the extensions for 2023.
Luckily these are high salaries that can give the Bengals much needed cap relief without cutting too far, however, they open up some issues that the Bengals will need to address in the draft and what's left of free agency.