Losing Jessie Bates wasn't a surprise this offseason and the Bengals even anticipated his departure, as they spent a first-rounder on Dax Hill in last year's draft. Losing Vonn Bell, however, hurt. He was a great leader for the defense and that is going to hit this team, at least in the early part of the regular season.
Hill will slide into one of the starting safety spots but who will take Bell's place? The Bengals signed Nick Scott in free agency and he felt like the easy replacement but then the team drafted Jordan Battle in the third round of this year's draft and that could mean there's more of a battle for that starting spot than we thought before.
The secondary is considered to be the Bengals' biggest red flag in 2023, per Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports. Benjamin phrases it as "a shuffled secondary" being their weakness, noting that while the rookies bring speed, they lack experience.
The NFL is a pass-happy league nowadays and if the secondary gets beat in a key moment of a game, fans will turn on this unit in a hurry.