Predicting which key 2024 Bengals free agents will stay or go

D.J. Reader, Tee Higgins, and Logan Wilson are just a few names slated to hit free agency next year.
Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle DJ Reader (98) wags his finger after shutting down a run in the
Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle DJ Reader (98) wags his finger after shutting down a run in the / Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY
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Tee Higgins: Stay

As I mentioned in the intro, Higgins is due for an extension before the regular season starts but the Bengals are running out of time to get that done. Once Joe Burrow gets his deal done, then it's likely the front office shifts their attention to taking care of Higgins.

That being said, the Bengals don't have to extend Higgins this offseason. The other option for them is to franchise tag him next offseason and then either try to get a deal done, let him play on the tag, or trade him and get something for him while they still can.

Higgins has been saying all of the right things so far and that's great but the scary part of all of this is that he and Bates share the same agent. We saw how things went down with Bates. Higgins hasn't indicated any sort of frustration toward the Bengals just yet but that doesn't mean he's a lock to stay in Cincinnati.

That being said, I predict the Bengals manage to keep him around whether it's by extending him this summer or franchise tagging him next spring.

D.J. Reader: Go

D.J. Reader joined the Bengals in 2020 but an injury sidelined him for all but five games that year. He came back in 2021 with a vengeance, finishing with a PFF grade of 80.8 and topping that with an 87.3 PFF grade in 2022.

Reader has been incredibly important against the run, scoring a PFF run-defense grade of 73.1 and when he wasn't out there this past season, it was noticeable. While the Bengals would definitely love to have Reader back past 2023, he's entering his age-29 season and the team has other players they need to get paid.

Reader could be one of the exceptions the team makes when it comes to the whole "approaching 30" thing but with the other guys they need to take care of paired with what Reader could command on the market, I'm not sure he sticks around.