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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / State Of The League: Cincinnati Bengals

State Of The League: Cincinnati Bengals

A first Look at the 2021 Cincinnati Bengals!
Publish Date: 07/30/2021
Fact checked by: Mike Goodpaster
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

Position Starter Backup
QB Joe Burrow Brandon Allen
RB Joe Mixon Samaje Perine
WR1 Ja’Marr Chase Auden Tate
WR2 Tyler Boyd Trent Taylor
WR3 Tee Higgins Stanley Morgan Jr.
TE Drew Sample C.J. Uzomah
LT Jonah Williams Fred Johnson
LG Xavier Su’a-Filo Michael Jordan
C Trey Hopkins Billy Price
RG Jackson Carman Quinton Spain
RT Riley Reiff D’Ante Smith
DE Sam Hubbard Cameron Sample
NT D.J. Reader Tyler Shelvin
DT Larry Ogunjobi Mike Daniels
DE Trey Hendrickson Joseph Ossai
LB Akeem Davis-Gaither Jordan Evans
LB Logan Wilson Joe Bachie
LB Germaine Pratt Markus Bailey
CB1 Trae Waynes Darius Phillips
CB2 Chidobe Awuzie Eli Apple
CB3 Mike Hilton Tony Brown
FS Jessie Bates Brandon Wilson
SS Vonn Bell Ricardo Allen
K Evan McPherson Austin Seibert
P Kevin Huber
KR Brandon Wilson Darius Phillips
PR Darius Phillips Tyler Boyd
LS Clark 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
Player Position Age 2020 Team 2021 Team Info / Notes
Geno Atkins DT 33 CIN Released
LeShaun Sims CB 28 CIN
Josh Bynes ILB 32 CIN
Margus Hunt DE 34 CIN
Player Position Age 2020 Team 2021 Team Acquired via
Trey Hendrickson DE 27 NO CIN Free Agency
Larry Ogunjobi DT 27 CLE CIN Free Agency
Chidobe Awuzie CB 26 DAL CIN Free Agency
Riley Reiff OT 33 MIN CIN Free Agency
Mike Hilton CB 27 PIT CIN Free Agency
Ricardo Allen CB/S 30 ATL CIN Free Agency
Kavon Frazier S 27 MIA CIN Free Agency
Trent Taylor WR 27 SF CIN Free Agency
Player Position Age 2020 Team 2021 Team Departed via
A.J. Green WR 33 CIN ARZ Free Agency
B.J. Finney C 30 CIN PIT Released
William Jackson CB 29 CIN WSH Free Agency
Carl Lawson DE 26 CIN NYJ Free Agency
Mackensie Alexander CB 28 CIN MIN Free Agency
Giovani Bernard RB 30 CIN TB Released
John Ross WR 27 CIN NYG Free Agency
Cethan Carter TE 28 CIN MIA Free Agency
Shawn Williams SS 30 CIN ARZ Free Agency
Bobby Hart RT 27 CIN BUF Released
Ryan Finley QB 26 CIN HOU Trade
Alex Redmond G 26 CIN NE Free Agency
Randy Bullock K 32 CIN DET Free Agency
Alex Erickson WR 29 CIN HOU Free Agency
Christian Covington DT 28 CIN LAC Free Agency
Xavier Williams DT 29 CIN ARZ Free Agency
Player Position Age 2020 Team 2021 Team Info / Notes
Kevin Huber P 36 CIN CIN
Brandon Wilson S 27 CIN CIN
Mike Thomas WR 27 CIN CIN
Tony Brown CB 25 CIN CIN
Samaje Perine RB 26 CIN CIN
Jalen Davis CB 25 CIN CIN
Clark Harris LS 37 CIN CIN
Brandon Allen QB 29 CIN CIN
Jordan Evans OLB 26 CIN CIN
Mike Daniels DT 32 CIN CIN
Amani Bledsoe DE 23 CIN CIN
Mitchell Wilcox TE 25 CIN CIN
Reginald McKenzie DT 24 CIN CIN


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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