Bengals bring back tight end in free agency

Nov 5, 2023; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bengals tight end Drew Sample (89) reacts after
Nov 5, 2023; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bengals tight end Drew Sample (89) reacts after / Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals decided to bring back a familiar face. Tight end Drew Sample agreed to a three-year contract extension to remain with the Bengals, the team officially announced. Sample has spent his entire career in Cincinnati since the team selected him in the second round (52nd overall) of the 2019 NFL Draft.

From the Bengals:

"The Bengals today re-signed TE Drew Sample to a three-year contract extension through the 2026 season.

"Sample, who will be a sixth-year player in 2024, originally was a second-round pick of the Bengals in '19. He has played in 61 regular-season games for Cincinnati (35 starts) and has caught 80 passes for 621 yards and three TDs."

Sample has been used largely as a blocking tight end over the course of his career, and he's solid in the role, but he has also still managed to catch 80 passes for 621 yards. Perhaps he'll have a bit larger receiving role moving forward.

Potential impact on Tanner Hudson

It will be interesting to see what these means for fellow Bengals tight ends Tanner Hudson and Irv Smith Jr., as both players are also free agents. It seems likely that the Bengals will sign at least one more tight end to complement Sample, either from free agency or by bringing Hudson or Smith back.

Hudson, specifically, seems like a guy Cincinnati might want to keep around. Last season was his first in Cincinnati, and he demonstrated that he can be a valuable addition to an offense.

Hudson came on strong a little later in the season after being buried on the depth chart early on, but he still recorded the best statistical season of his career, by far. His 39 receptions and 352 receiving yards were both career highs, and he also recorded the first touchdown of his career. He finished the season as the team's top tight end, despite not starting the season in that position.

The Bengals could certainly afford to re-sign Hudson, even after also signing Sample, so it will be interesting to see if they decide to do so.