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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2. LB Akeem Davis-Gaither 

Akeem Davis-Gaither is in an interesting spot. When he's healthy and on the field, he performs and even came up with a crucial interception in the wild-card round of the postseason against the Baltimore Ravens. 

Davis-Gaither is used as a utility linebacker behind the likes of Wilson and Pratt. His pass coverage defense has improved drastically over his first couple of seasons in the league and has proven to be effective when he gets an opportunity. This will be a big year for him to earn his payday whether it is from the Bengals or elsewhere next summer.

1. OT Jonah Williams 

Jonah Williams may be the most impactful player that's playing for a position after 2024. Williams has been underwhelming outside of the 2021-22 season, and he was a former top-10 pick and is just now entering the prime years of his career. Williams may or may not be a long-term piece in the Bengals, but he must perform to get the recognition and money he envisions in the off-season.

Williams will make the transition to right tackle this year for the Bengals while La'el Collins is injured, and it could be a blessing in disguise for him. He has been vocal about being a left tackle, but right tackle can be a lot easier for some, and if Williams can make the transition and come into his own by prospering in the role. 

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However, once Collins comes back it could be interesting considering both Williams and Collins are paid pleasantly, and paying a backup what either of them are making is the most plausible option.