With the Cincinnati Bengals losing to the Chiefs and the Steelers knocking off the Seahawks in Week 17, the Stripes are eliminated from playoff contention. This has been a rollercoaster of a season for a team that entered the regular season with Super Bowl aspirations.
Be that as it may, all good things come to an end and the Bengals have 19 players who have one more game on their contracts before hitting some type of free agency this spring. The Bengals have 14 unrestricted free agents this offseason and those players are free to sign wherever they want assuming that Cincinnati doesn't franchise tag them.
The Bengals have two players who will be restricted free agents, meaning another team can offer them a deal but Cincy has a chance to match the offer. They also have three exclusive-rights free agents, which means that the Bengals have first dibs at keeping these players.
Every Bengals player entering their last game under contract:
Restricted free agents: Trenton Irwin, Mitchell Wilcox
Irwin feels like an easy option to bring back even if he didn't look much like a starting wide receiver down the stretch. He's been reliable in the past and he's a restricted free agent so as long as he doesn't receive a crazy offer from someone, it feels as though Cincinnati will want him back.
As for Wilcox, he didn't do much this season. He was a late addition to the roster last summer and was outshined by Drew Sample and Tanner Hudson so it wouldn't be a shock if he's not brought back in 2024.
Exclusive-rights free agents: Cal Adomitis, Jake Browning, Devin Cochran
The only good news about Joe Burrow's injury is that it means we got to see what Browning could do and he was good until the magic ran out. He proved to be a solid backup quarterback and it's good to see that he's an exclusive-rights free agent and therefore, should be back in 2024. The only way he's not is if another team gets desperate for a quarterback and offers the Bengals a deal they can't refuse.
Adomitis should be back and we still haven't seen much of anything from Cochran but the team appears to like him.
Unrestricted free agents: Chidobe Awuzie, Joe Bachie, Markus Bailey, Tyler Boyd, Akeem Davis-Gaither, Cody Ford, Tee Higgins, D.J. Reader, Drew Sample, Max Scharping, Irv Smith Jr., Josh Tupou, Jonah Williams, Trayveon Williams
The big names here are Awuzie, Boyd, Higgins, Reader, Sample, and Jonah Williams. Out of that bunch, the Bengals maybe re-sign two of them but they're going to have to make some really tough decisions in the spring.