5 Bengals who must perform in 2023 ahead of contract decisions

  • Jonah Williams has a chance to make a lot of money
  • 3 linebackers are entering contract years
  • Can Trenton Irwin make the most of this opportunity?
Cincinnati Bengals v New England Patriots
Cincinnati Bengals v New England Patriots / Nick Grace/GettyImages
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This will be an interesting contract year for many on the Cincinnati Bengals, and they will have to manage who to pay and what to pay them if they choose to negotiate an extension. It will be a heavy off-season of linebackers hitting the open market.

The good thing is the Bengals locked up Germaine Pratt for years to come, which gives them a little more comfort knowing they have a key starter already under contract. 

Tee Higgins is also hitting the open market, but I wouldn't necessarily say he needs to perform. Higgins has supplanted himself as a long-term piece already if the Bengals can manage to afford him. He's been too vital to the Bengals success to be playing for a spot. If he can agree with the Cincinnati front office, his spot is already secured. 

Logan Wilson will be a key name that the Bengals will need to find a way to bring back. He's been the quarterback of the defense over the last two seasons, and they also have Akeem Davis-Gaither and Markus Bailey hitting the market. With that being said, here are five names that must perform entering contract years. 

*All player personnel courtesy of Pro Football Reference

5. LB Markus Bailey 

Markus Bailey is in an interesting spot. He has played in some very high-volume and high-pressure situations when least expected due to injuries or performance, and he always seems to do his job.

That goes a long way, especially when you have had the journey that Bailey has had. He was one of the most talented collegiate linebackers at Purdue, however, multiple knee injuries caused him to drop significantly on draft day.

He has now spent the last three seasons with the Bengals and has always found the field at some sort of volume. Bailey could very well earn himself an extension, and it may bode well for Cincinnati as well. He would be a cheaper option and he has proven he can play against the best of the best and remain effective.