As the Cincinnati Bengals inch closer to needing to pay Joe Burrow big buck-a-roos, they'll have to make difficult decisions as far as who to keep and who to move on from when free agency begins this offseason.
The Bengals are set to have 17 players become unrestricted free agents this offseason, meaning that any team can sign those players. If the Bengals slap one of them with the franchise tag, however, then things become a little more complicated, as we saw with Jessie Bates this past offseason.
Here are four pending free agents that Cincinnati should try to keep for 2023 and beyond.
Bell has been tremendous for the Bengals since joining them in 2020. After totaling just two interceptions in his previous six seasons, Bell has become a ball hawk, notching four picks through 11 games in 2022. That ties him for the second-most picks in the league.
While Bates has gone on to disappoint this year, Bell has not. Between the two safeties, Bell needs to be the one that the Bengals keep in the stripes. They'll have Dax Hill prepared to start in their secondary but losing both Bell and Bates would be rough.
This was an under-the-radar signing for Cincinnati back in 2020 but it won't be this time around. Don't be surprised if Bell gets a lot more buzz when he hits free agency in the spring.