This is the area where free agency will hurt the Bengals the most. Jesse Bates is almost assuredly gone. Vonn Bell will be testing the market shortly. In Lou Anarumo's defense, the ability to process quickly and have experience is invaluable. Losing both Bates and Bell is not an option.
Cornerback is also a question mark for the 2023 Bengals. Chidobe Awuzie is coming off a knee injury and Eli Apple is a free agent. Cam Taylor-Britt, a 2022 draft choice, is firmly established as one of the corners.
How to Fix It - Free Agency + Draft
If the Bengals lose Bates they have Dax Hill ready to go. He, however, has very little experience despite playing a supporting role all year. If the Bengals let Vonn Bell go also it will truly be a crisis.
Fixing it will require a combination of veteran additions (free agents) and top flight draft talent. In the 2023 free agent class there is no shortage of free agent veteran safeties. The first option would be to sign Vonn Bell as losing Bates and Bell would be a major setback. Bell provides leadership and steady production and should come at a price that is attainable to the Bengals.
Signing a tier-two veteran with upsides such as Juan Thornhill or Julian Love would do nice and provide depth and competition for Dax Hill. Of course, getting Bates back also would be wonderful, but, it looks like that ship has sailed.
Cornerback is another key area of focus. A good cornerback room should always be a combination of youth, talent, and established experience. The next "great thing" should be there as cornerbacks are always an area of need.
In this case, drafting from a deep CB class this year is a necessity. There will be potential starters out there into the third round. Someone like Deonte Banks early would be an excellent fit to the CB room.