The Cincinnati Bengals already had a Super Bowl-contending roster heading into the 2023 offseason but that did not stop them from making several changes to the starting lineup.
Now that the 53-man roster is set and the depth chart is in place, we know how many new starters the Bengals will have on the roster. Five were not with the team last year and were immediately projected starters upon arrival. Only one was with the team last season.
New Bengals starters in 2023
- Orlando Brown Jr. (LT)
- Irv Smith Jr. (TE)
- Dax Hill (S)
- Nick Scott (S)
- Brad Robbins (P)
- Charlie Jones (PR)
Orlando Brown Jr. was brought in to help stabilize a shaky offensive line. He was signed to be the starter at left tackle. As a result, Jonah Williams is now starting on the right side in what is likely to be his last season with the team.
Where La’el Collins, last year’s starting tackle, will line up once he returns from the PUP list is still a mystery.
Irv Smith Jr. was brought in to take over from Hayden Hurst, who departed for Carolina this offseason. Unfortunately, because Zac Taylor did not play his starters in the preseason, we haven’t had a chance to see him in his new role with the Bengals. Smith signed a one-year deal with the team and if he can put up similar numbers to what Hurst did, Smith could look for a big contract next season.
Fortunately, we’re less than a week away from the season opener. This will be our first chance at seeing Brown and Smith take the field in stripes. Perhaps the most exciting thing about this is watching a new-look offensive line that is often characterized as the best to play in front of Burrow. Let’s hope that optimism matches the results on the field.
Dax Hill and Nick Scott are the new starting safeties this season for the Bengals. Hill is the only new starter who was with the team last season. The former Michigan Wolverine was drafted in the first round of last year’s draft in anticipation of Jessie Bates leaving in free agency. Scott was signed in free agency to help replace Vonn Bell, who, like Hurst, now plays with the Panthers.
With Hill and Scott players under contract for the foreseeable future, the hope is they will be suitable substitutes for Bell and Bates. Those are big cleats to fill. Let’s hope they are up to the challenge.
Cincinnati did not ignore special teams regarding the search for new starters this offseason.
Wide receiver Charlie Jones was drafted in the fourth round out of Purdue. When he was selected, the former Boilermaker was tabbed as an eventual replacement for Tyler Boyd, who is set to hit free agency in 2024.
Before Jones can think about that, he must concentrate on his role as the new first-string punt returner for the Bengals. With Trent Taylor now in Chicago, Jones is first up in trying to fill that role.
The Bengals also drafted a new starting punter in Brad Robbins. Cincinnati took him in the sixth round out of Michigan. His reputation for having a high hang time precedes him. He was also the holder for field goals for the best kicker in this year’s draft, Jake Moody. Robbins should fit in perfectly as he takes over for Drue Chrisman, who was released on cutdown day.
Despite having a stacked roster, the Bengals went out and acquired several new faces with the expectation of them starting. Three free agents, two rookies, and one second-year player are now charged with playing pivotal roles in helping the team return to a third consecutive AFC Championship game.
Hopefully, these six new starters will be the keys to getting the team back to where it ultimately wants to be.