The Cincinnati Bengals soon won't have the benefit of having a quarterback on a rookie deal. Joe Burrow is set to be extended any day now and once he inks that contract, the Bengals have two years to try and win a Super Bowl while Burrow is still on that deal.
That means the team has to make tougher decisions now because they can't afford to keep everyone. We saw that this past offseason, as Jessie Bates, Vonn Bell, Hayden Hurst, and Samaje Perine all left for greener pastures.
Next offseason, the key free agents slated to hit the market are Chidobe Awuzie, Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins, D.J. Reader, Jonah Williams, and Logan Wilson. We know that the Bengals are hoping to get extensions done for Higgins and Wilson but since they're still technically set to be free agents in March, I'm keeping them in this article.
Let's break down each of these pending free agents and whether or not they'll stay in the Queen City or call another city home next year.
Chidobe Awuzie: Go
The Bengals signed Awuzie in the 2021 offseason in a move that now looks quite brilliant. Awuzie finished his first season in Cincinnati with an overall PFF grade of 83.3 and while his production dropped off in the playoffs, he was on his way to another stellar season in 2022 until an ACL injury sidelined him for the rest of the year.
Cincinnati has added a lot of young talent to their secondary by way of the draft and that could be enough reason for them not to pursue a second deal for Awuzie. If second-round rookie D.J. Turner balls out this year (and he's had a really good camp so far), the need to keep Awuzie won't be as strong.
Pair that with the fact that Awuzie will be 29 for the 2024 season and it would be surprising if the Bengals offered him another contract.
Tyler Boyd: Go
With their second-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Bengals selected Pittsburgh's Tyler Boyd and the rest is history. Boyd has been an incredible receiver since joining the Stripes in 2016, tallying over 1,000 yards in 2018 and 2019.
Unfortunately for Boyd, the Bengals didn't stop adding receivers after taking Tee Higgins in the second round in 2020. The very next year, they spent the fifth overall pick on Ja'Marr Chase and the writing was on the wall for Boyd. His targets decreased and, as a result, so did his yardage.
While Boyd is arguably the best WR3 in the league, he turns 29 in November and we all know how the Bengals are steering clear of signing guys once they inch closer to 30 years old. Throw in that Higgins and Chase are slated to earn big contracts and there just isn't going to be anything left for Boyd.