The Cincinnati Bengals used to have a not-so-great situation at linebacker. That is not the case now, as their linebacker position has gone from a position of weakness to a position of strength.
The team didn't add any new linebackers this offseason because, to be perfectly honest, they didn't need to. They re-signed Germaine Pratt, and Logan Wilson is back for at least one more year as are Akeem Davis-Gaither and Markus Bailey.
Let's check out what the linebacker depth chart looks like now that the 2023 NFL Draft is in the rearview mirror.
Starters: Germaine Pratt and Logan Wilson
No brainer. The Bengals didn't re-sign Pratt for him not to start. He exploded onto the scene in 2022 and was one of the biggest game-changers on the defensive side of the ball.
Wilson is entering his fourth season and if he's not extended before the season begins, he'll be in a contract year. That'll be a major incentive for him to ball out and the Bengals will reap the benefits.
Backups: Akeem Davis-Gaither and Markus Bailey
Davis-Gaither is also entering the final year of his rookie contract. The fourth-round pick out of Appalachian State missed time in 2021 but was able to contribute throughout most of the 2022 season. He's been a solid depth piece during his time in Cincinnati.
As for the other backup spot, it could go to Joe Bachie but I ultimately settled on Markus Bailey here. The former seventh-rounder has been terrific on special teams during his time in Cincinnati.
The Rest: Joe Bachie, Shaka Heyward, Keandre Jones, Jaylen Moody
Bachie will compete with Bailey for the last linebacker spot on the roster. He joined the Bengals in 2021 and has been a nice depth piece and special teams contributor.
Heyward and Moody both joined the Bengals as UDFAs so they'll have their work cut out for them this summer in training camp and preseason games.
Jones has been with the team since 2020 and spent nearly the entire 2022 season on the practice squad.
The most intriguing aspect of the linebacker position will be who will get the final spot on the roster? Will it be Bailey, Bachie, or someone else?