The Bengals have made some important decisions to make this off-season. The team could look very different in 2021.
AJ Green, Carl Lawson and William Jackson III lead a group of 11 starters who are asked to make free choices. Another 16 players could also test their value on the open market.
Not only do the Bengals need to find a way to improve their team in the free agency, but they also need to keep some of the 27 free agents that were on their roster last season.
The free agency starts on Wednesday, March 17th.
Cincinnati has built its team through the design over the years. They usually take a back seat in the free hand.
Their conservative approach changed last off-season when they tied over $ 130 million to seven free agents. It was the third most common in the NFL.
Another off-season of spending could help the Bengals get back into the playoffs.
The planned cap for 2021 will be at least $ 175 million, but could be higher. The COVID-19 pandemic impacted the cap as the stadiums only had a fraction of the fans they would normally have at games.
If the cap is $ 175 million in 2021, then Cincinnati will have a cap of nearly $ 35 million after moving $ 10.79 million as of 2020.
The Bengals are expected to have the fifth most place in the NFL. Like the other 31 teams, Cincinnati could switch from key veterans to free up more space.
The extra space could allow them to re-sign Carl Lawson, William Jackson III and freely address their offensive line.
Lawson and Jackson will both have the highest market value for their positions.
Pro Football Focus predicts that Bengals will re-sign Lawson for four years for $ 55 million Contract. they also Expect Jackson to sign a three-year deal for $ 40 million deal with Cincinnati.
The Bengals will still have to raise funds to protect Joe Burrow and give him guns, even if they choose to re-sign both Lawson and Jackson.
Cincinnati could unlock another $ 21.7 million through the release of Geno Atkins, Bobby Hart, BJ Finney and Josh Tupou. Here is a breakdown of each player:
Cincinnati is expected to deviate from one of its big names this off-season. The team would save $ 9.6 million if it released Atkins.
He underwent an operation in December to repair a shoulder injury he sustained at the training camp. He was only on the field for 119 defensive snaps last season, which was a career low. Atkins appeared in eight games and ended in a tackle.
The Bengals designed Atkins in the fourth round (120th overall) in the 2010 NFL Draft. He has appeared in 161 career games (134 starts) and is third in team history with 75.5 sacks.
Going away from him makes a lot of sense, given the money it would save, especially since they signed DJ Reader on a four-year $ 53 million deal last off-season.
Hart enters the final year of his $ 21 million, three-year contract. It was the starting gun for the Bengals for the past three seasons.
Hart failed to live up to his expectations and anchored the right side of the line, but he arguably had the best season of his career in 2020.
Hart finished with a 60.8 Pass Blocking Grade according to PFF. It’s a viable backup device, but the Bengals pay him to be more than that.
Cincinnati would save $ 5.9 million by cutting Hart.
Finney landed in Cincinnati as part of the deal with Carlos Dunlap with Seattle. When he got into town he was only on the field for two special teams against the Steelers in week 10.
Starting center Trey Hopkins suffered an ACL tear in the season finale, but the Bengals can turn to Billy Price if he can’t return for the 2021 opener.
Cincinnati should be able to find a cheaper backup center in the free agency that will allow them to move from Finney and save $ 3.5 million in storage space.
Tupou has left the 2020 season due to COVID-19. As a result, his contract was extended to 2021.
The defensive tackle is said to bring in $ 2.1 million. The team might choose to switch from Tupou to free up a little more space, although this is less likely than some of its other options.
Tupou appeared in 23 games for Cincinnati and started seven times in three seasons with the Bengals. He has 36 career tackles and one forced fiddle.
Moving from Finley wouldn’t have much of an impact on the footprint, but it would show that the team are looking for a solid safety blanket to keep Burrow secure.
Finley has not proven that it can be a quality backup. Brandon Allen switched from training to starter after injuring Joe Burrow.
Finley played when Allen was injured That included the win in week 15 against the Steelers on Monday night. He completed 17 of 32 passes (53.1%) for 164 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions that season.
Cincinnati would save $ 652,586 by releasing Finley. You could also bring him back into the battle for the replacement position with Allen or another seasoned quarterback.
Other possible cuts
The Bengals could also move on from Giovani Bernard, CJ Uzomah and Xavier Su’a-Filo if they wanted to make more space.
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