With their fifth-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Bengals drafted a kicker. Some might have wondered why spend a draft pick on a kicker but Evan McPherson has proven that it was a smart move for the Stripes.
McPherson has had at least an 82% field goal completion since joining the Bengals in 2021 and he's missed just six extra points, as of this writing. He's kicked some huge game-winners for Cincinnati, including in the 2022 divisional round and the 2022 AFC Championship game.
Chase is the player on this list that I'm the most confident in the Bengals keeping around but McPherson feels like a near-certainty to sign to an extension as well. He's been nails and he'll only be 25 years old when he's slated to become a free agent.
The only player on this list who I could see the Bengals maybe parting ways with before 2025 is Joe Mixon, who took a pay cut last offseason in order to stay with the team. While Mixon was once one of the few bright spots for the Bengals offense, the sad truth in the NFL is that once running backs hit their mid-to-late 20s, teams aren't interested in keeping them around.
Mixon will turn 28 years old in July 2024 and that's considered old for a running back. He also has not been as productive over the past few years and if the Bengals can find a younger upgrade at the position, they likely wouldn't hesitate to move on from Mixon.
The Bengals can save over $5 million by moving on from Mixon this offseason. If they decide to keep him on the 2024 roster, however, that will for sure be the final year for him in Cincinnati, as he'd be a free-agent in 2025 and approaching 29 years old.
Out of these 2025 free agents, Chase and McPherson feel like the obvious choices for Cincinnati to extend because they're both young and productive. Hill, Hilton, and Karras are great players but they'll all be in their 30s when they become free agents again. Mixon is the one I'd feel the most confident with saying he won't be brought back.