The Next Move: Bengals Free Agency & Draft Predictions


Nathan Mueller

Sorted possible ‘future’ Bengals in front of the Bengals logo.

Immediately as free agency starts, the Cincinnati Bengals have lost safety duo Jesse Bates (signed by the Atlanta Falcons) and Vonn Bell (signed by the Carolina Panthers). Not to mention the loss of running back Samaje Perine (signed by the Denver Broncos) and tight end Hayden Hurst (signed by the Carolina Panthers).

The Bengals also have big decisions to make in resigning players like Eli Apple, as well as extending players like Joe Burrow and Tee Higgins whose contracts end at the end of the 2023-2024 season.

The Bengal’s defensive staff seems to be confident in the talent they have on the team. Last year’s first-round pick, Daxton Hill, is the most likely Jesse Bates replacement. Hill has already spent a year in Lou Anarumo’s defense and was productive in the limited snaps he played last year. 

At 10:24 pm on March 16th, it was announced that OT Orlando Brown signed with the Bengals for 4 years. The contract totaled $64 million and is very front heavy with $31 million being paid as a signing bonus.

The signing of Brown puts the Bengals in a position where they can ignore the offensive line in the draft and later rounds of free agency.

In my opinion, the main free agent the Bengals should be targeting going forwards is C. J.

Gardner-Johnson, a 25-year-old safety who could be an upgrade or at least a replacement for Vonn Bell.

I don’t see the Bengals signing a running back from free agency as I expect the Bengals will stick with Joe Mixon until his contract expires.

If the Bengals can sign a Vonn Bell replacement, they are in a good place to look forward to the draft. 

I think Cinncinati will go with TE Darnell Washington from Georgia with pick No. 28. Washington is a good blocker when needed, and that is an area of need for the Bengals.

With pick No. 60 I think the Bengals could trade up to a higher second-round pick and draft a running-back to sit behind Joe Mixon for the 2023-2024 season and hopefully start for the 2024-2025 season. 

I think it’s unlikely that Bijan Robinson from Texas will fall to the second round, so I can see the Bengals selecting Jahmyr Gibbs from Alabama or Devon Achane from Texas A&M.

Gibbs is the better ball carrier overall, and most likely to be productive on day 1, but Achane is faster and arguably has more raw talent. Both are more speedy and shifty backs, but Achane is 11 lbs lighter and runs .04 seconds faster in the 40-meter dash.

If the Bengals go with Gibbs, it is possible they will turn to a two-running-back backfield in 2023, but Achane could be better in the long run.

These are just my predictions, everything is very up in the air as we are at the beginning of free agency.