After back-to-back deep playoff runs, the Cincinnati Bengals roster has seen some key departures in free agency. While the future contracts of Joe Burrow and Tee Higgins loom large, let's take a look at which position groups the Bengals have chosen to only invest lightly in.
With 11 starters on offense and 11 on defense, here are the projected starting 22 for Week 1 of the 2023 regular season.
- Quarterback: Joe Burrow
- Running Back: Joe Mixon
- Wide Receivers: Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd
- Tight End: Irv Smith Jr.
- Offensive Line (left to right): Orlando Brown Jr, Cordell Volson, Ted Karras, Alex Cappa, Jonah Williams
Unfortunately, 2023 will likely be the last year that the Bengals wide receiver trio of Chase, Higgins, and Boyd all play in the orange and black together.
Irv Smith Jr. is a free agent signing who is hoping to make a name for himself in the Bengals’ high-powered offense after four injury-plagued seasons in Minnesota.
Through alleged legal issues and a down season, Joe Mixon’s future is in Cincinnati for at least this next year. Although, look for rookie Chase Brown to take away some carries as the hungry rookie looks to prove himself.
Orlando Brown Jr. was the Bengals' big free agency splash this past offseason, but the right tackle spot is a three-way race between La’el Collins, Jonah Williams, and Jackson Carman. I gave Williams the edge here since he was playing the most consistently for Cincinnati, even amidst a trade request.
The Bengals' 11 offensive starters are pretty set, but the fourth-round rookie wide receiver, Charlie Jones, should hopefully get some look in an empty set. Cincinnati has offensive line depth for the first time in recent memory, as the trenches appear to be somewhat solid.
- Edge: Sam Hubbard, Trey Hendrickson
- Defensive Interior: D.J. Reader, B.J. Hill
- Linebacker: Logan Wilson, Germaine Pratt
- Cornerback: Chidobe Awuzie, Cam Taylor-Britt, Mike Hilton
- Safety: Dax Hill, Jordan Battle
The Bengals' defensive line starters are the same from the 2022 season, but look for 2023 first-round pick, Myles Murphy, to make an immediate impact. He has the size and explosiveness to play anywhere on the line, allowing him to power his way to opposing quarterbacks.
Germaine Pratt is the big re-signing from the past offseason, rounding out one of the better linebacking duos in the league.
In the secondary, sophomore Cam Taylor-Britt is looking to be the cornerback of the future in Cincinnati. He lines up with Chidobe Awuzie, recovering from injury, and a great slot corner in Mike Hilton.
Behind them are 2022 first-rounder Dax Hill, and 2023 third-rounder, Jordan Battle. Hill was drafted as an insurance option in the scenario where Cincinnati did not retain star safeties Von Bell or Jessie Bates III.
The real surprise here is Jordan Battle who has impressed in camp, looking primed to steal the starting job from free agent acquisition, Nick Scott. This young safety duo has the ability to be something special in the Queen City for some time to come.