It'd be a real shame to lose DJ Reader next offseason after what he's done for the Bengals defense but it's a real possibility. The team is already going to be spending a lot of money on the offensive side of the ball and that means the defensive side is going to take a hit.
Reader is projected to earn an annual salary of $15.9 million, according to Spotrac, and that will be a steep price for the Bengals to pay with the other guys getting massive paychecks. Throw in that Reader finished with a sparkling 87.3 PFF grade and other teams will be chomping at the bit to throw the bag at him.
Irv Smith Jr.
In 2021, CJ Uzomah balled out while catching passes from Joe Burrow and that received a nice contract from the New York Jets following the season. In 2022, Hayden Hurst came in to replace Uzomah, had a respectable season, and signed an impressive deal with the Carolina Panthers.
Irv Smith Jr. is the next tight end to try and benefit from catching passes from Joey B. The problem with Smith is that he's been injury-prone throughout his career so that could prevent him from securing the bag in the 2024 offseason.
If Smith stays healthy and plays well, he likely becomes the next Bengals tight end to sign a solid contract and take his talents elsewhere.