Hayden Hurst might be more difficult to retain than Bengals fans thought

AFC Championship - Cincinnati Bengals v Kansas City Chiefs
AFC Championship - Cincinnati Bengals v Kansas City Chiefs / Michael Owens/GettyImages

The Cincinnati Bengals signed Hayden Hurst to a one-year "prove it" deal last offseason and he definitely proved himself. In fact, he might have proven himself to the point where the Bengals no longer can afford to keep him around.

Hurst signed with the Bengals on a one-year deal worth $3.5 million and he lived up to to his contract. The former first-round pick finished his inaugural season with the Bengals tallying 52 receptions for 414 yards and two touchdowns in the regular season and 13 catches for 141 yards and a touchdown in the playoffs.

There's no debating that Hurst was a difference-maker in this offense but unfortunately, he might have played himself out of Cincinnati's budget. On Brad Spielberger's list of the top 100 free agents this season, Hurst came in at No. 74 and is projected to earn a three-year deal worth $28.5 million with an annual salary of $9.5 million.

Can the Bengals afford to keep Hayden Hurst?

The Bengals don't have any tight ends on their roster entering the offseason so they're going to need to go to work at the position this spring whether that's in free agency or the draft. Hurst would be a great player to have back in 2023 but if this is the deal he's expecting, the Bengals might want to look elsewhere.

To put things into perspective, C.J. Uzomah signed with the Jets for three years, $24 million. If Uzomah wasn't worth that at 29 years old, then I'm not sure Hurst is either, as much as I like the guy.

Every Bengals Player Hitting Free Agency in 2023. dark. Next

Do you think the Bengals should re-sign Hayden Hurst or should they move on from him?