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State Of The League: Cincinnati Bengals

A first Look at the 2021 Cincinnati Bengals!
CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 16: Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) stands with his teammates during the Cincinnati Bengals training camp on August 16, 2021 at the Cincinnati Bengals training facility in Cincinnati, OH. (Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The NFL Draft and free agency are in our rearview mirrors. Instead, we are going over all 32 teams’ offseason, division by division: their player personnel moves, coaching changes, and projected preseason depth charts. We are halfway through the AFC North, so let’s push forward and check out the Cincinnati Bengals!

AFC North team links: Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers

Cincinnati Bengals Training Camp Projected Depth Chart

QBJoe BurrowBrandon Allen
RBJoe MixonSamaje Perine
WR1Ja’Marr ChaseAuden Tate
WR2Tyler BoydTrent Taylor
WR3Tee HigginsStanley Morgan Jr.
TEDrew SampleC.J. Uzomah
LTJonah WilliamsFred Johnson
LGXavier Su’a-FiloMichael Jordan
CTrey HopkinsBilly Price
RGJackson CarmanQuinton Spain
RTRiley ReiffD’Ante Smith
DESam HubbardCameron Sample
NTD.J. ReaderTyler Shelvin
DTLarry OgunjobiMike Daniels
DETrey HendricksonJoseph Ossai
LBAkeem Davis-GaitherJordan Evans
LBLogan WilsonJoe Bachie
LBGermaine PrattMarkus Bailey
CB1Trae WaynesDarius Phillips
CB2Chidobe AwuzieEli Apple
CB3Mike HiltonTony Brown
FSJessie BatesBrandon Wilson
SSVonn BellRicardo Allen
KEvan McPhersonAustin Seibert
PKevin Huber
KRBrandon WilsonDarius Phillips
PRDarius PhillipsTyler Boyd
LSClark Harris

*BOLD player name = Rookie*


Cincinnati Bengals 2021 NFL Draft Class

Round 1 (5th overall): WR Ja’Marr Chase, LSU

Round 2 (46th): OT/OG Jackson Carman, Clemson

Round 3 (69th): EDGE Joseph Ossai, Texas

Round 4 (111th): EDGE Cameron Sample, Tulane

Round 4 (122nd): DL Tyler Shelvin, LSU

Round 4 (139th): OT D’Ante Smith, East Carolina

Round 5 (149th): K Evan McPherson, Florida

Round 6 (190th): OG/C Trey Hill, Georgia

Round 6 (202nd): RB Chris Evans, Michigan

Round 7 (235th): EDGE Wyatt Hubert, Kansas State


Cincinnati Bengals Offseason Player Personnel Moves

Expired Contracts
PlayerPositionAge2020 Team2021 TeamInfo / Notes
Geno AtkinsDT33CINReleased
LeShaun SimsCB28CIN
Josh BynesILB32CIN
Margus HuntDE34CIN
PlayerPositionAge2020 Team2021 TeamAcquired via
Trey HendricksonDE27NOCINFree Agency
Larry OgunjobiDT27CLECINFree Agency
Chidobe AwuzieCB26DALCINFree Agency
Riley ReiffOT33MINCINFree Agency
Mike HiltonCB27PITCINFree Agency
Ricardo AllenCB/S30ATLCINFree Agency
Kavon FrazierS27MIACINFree Agency
Trent TaylorWR27SFCINFree Agency
PlayerPositionAge2020 Team2021 TeamDeparted via
A.J. GreenWR33CINARZFree Agency
B.J. FinneyC30CINPITReleased
William JacksonCB29CINWSHFree Agency
Carl LawsonDE26CINNYJFree Agency
Mackensie AlexanderCB28CINMINFree Agency
Giovani BernardRB30CINTBReleased
John RossWR27CINNYGFree Agency
Cethan CarterTE28CINMIAFree Agency
Shawn WilliamsSS30CINARZFree Agency
Bobby HartRT27CINBUFReleased
Ryan FinleyQB26CINHOUTrade
Alex RedmondG26CINNEFree Agency
Randy BullockK32CINDETFree Agency
Alex EricksonWR29CINHOUFree Agency
Christian CovingtonDT28CINLACFree Agency
Xavier WilliamsDT29CINARZFree Agency
PlayerPositionAge2020 Team2021 TeamInfo / Notes
Kevin HuberP36CINCIN
Brandon WilsonS27CINCIN
Mike ThomasWR27CINCIN
Tony BrownCB25CINCIN
Samaje PerineRB26CINCIN
Jalen DavisCB25CINCIN
Clark HarrisLS37CINCIN
Brandon AllenQB29CINCIN
Jordan EvansOLB26CINCIN
Mike DanielsDT32CINCIN
Amani BledsoeDE23CINCIN
Mitchell WilcoxTE25CINCIN
Reginald McKenzieDT24CINCIN


Cincinnati Bengals Offseason Review

The rebuild continues in Cincinnati, but it is making some nice progress. The 2020 season had tons of excitement for Bengals fans because of Heisman winner and 1st overall pick Joe Burrow. Burrow played well behind a terrible offensive line and looked like the franchise quarterback every team needs – until he went down with a season-ending knee injury after just 10 starts. The Bengals dealt with many injuries to key starters all season, including Joe Mixon (6 starts due to injury), Trae Waynes (missed the entire season), Geno Atkins and DJ Reader, and more. The Bengals were uncharacteristically busy this offseason, and with a healthy Burrow, the team hopes to keep moving toward contention in maybe the toughest division in the NFL. 

Burrow looked great last season, displaying the swagger and leadership he showed at LSU. He kept the mistakes to a minimum (only five interceptions) and wasn’t rattled playing behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league. The Bengals passed on stud left tackle Penei Sewell in the Draft but still added several pieces to the offensive line in an attempt to keep Burrow upright. Riley Reiff was signed in free agency and will start at the right tackle in place of Bobby Hart opposite Jonah Williams. Cincinnati also drafted three offensive linemen in this year’s NFL Draft. Of the three rookie draft picks, only Jackson Carman is likely to lock down a starting role right away at one of the guard spots. D’Ante Smith will be competing for the swing tackle role, while Trey Hill is likely bound for the practice squad unless Trey Hopkins isn’t ready for week one. Hopkins tore his ACL in the last game of the regular season, so that Billy Price might be in line for some starts early in the season. He struggles with inconsistency, however, so Hill or Lamont Gaillard could be called upon at center if Hopkins isn’t ready to go. When the Bengals passed on Sewell, it was because Ja’Marr Chase was on the board. Chase sat out the 2020 season because of Covid, but it didn’t matter come Draft day. Burrow to Chase was electric in 2019, as Chase led the nation in receiving yards and touchdowns in his sophomore season. The team lost AJ Green in free agency, but Chase is a legit potential WR1, and the Burrow to Chase connection is already making noise.

The defensive side of the ball saw the most turnover this offseason, particularly on the line and in the secondary.  Gone are Carl Lawson and former Pro Bowler Geno Atkins, replaced by free-agent additions Trey Hendrickson and Larry Ogunjobi. Hendrickson (4 years, $60M) had 13.5 sacks for the Saints last season and will be tabbed to start opposite Sam Hubbard – who disappointed last season with just two sacks in 13 starts. Ogunjobi will slide in next to Reader to form a solid interior pair. Still, Ogunjobi will need some consistency, as he contributed only 2.5 sacks in 15 starts for Cleveland last season. Cincinnati also drafted some reinforcements upfront on the 2nd and 3rd days of the NFL Draft. Edge rushers Cameron Sample, Joseph Ossai, and Wyatt Hubert will provide rotational depth at defensive end/outside linebacker as rookies. In contrast, defensive tackle Tyler Shelvin aims to be the top backup on the interior. The secondary will have three new starters at the corner this season after losing William Jackson and Mackensie Alexander in free agency. Cincinnati signed free agents Chidobe Awuzie and Mike Hilton; they join Trae Waynes, a free agent signing last offseason who is coming off an injury. The plan is to have Awuzie and Waynes start on the outside and Hilton – one of the best slot corners in the league – as the nickel back. 

The Bengals lost many key veteran contributors this offseason, and transitioning to younger players across the roster can be difficult. There won’t be a shortage of excitement, however. The offense has a young potential franchise quarterback surrounded by tons of talent at the skill positions, so it will be up to the beefed-up offensive line and a retooled defense to really step up. The other three teams in the division made the playoffs last season, and all three will again be potential playoff contenders, potentially leaving the Bengals on the short end of the stick.

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