Cincinnati Bengals Free Agents 2022: Jessie Bates III and C.J. Uzomah highlight the list

    The Cincinnati Bengals shocked the AFC North in 2021 and took the division title, but will they be able to retain key free agents in 2022?

    The Cincinnati Bengals shocked the NFL this season. While many assumed some positive regression with Joe Burrow returning and Ja’Marr Chase in-house, few believed the team would compete in the playoffs, let alone the Super Bowl. Regardless of the outcome of their game against the Rams, the Bengals have quite a few free agents to make decisions on in the 2022 offseason.

    Heading into the offseason, be sure to check out the top free agents at each position in the NFL in 2022.

    Cincinnati Bengals free agents in 2022

    According to Spotrac, the Bengals are projected to have roughly $59 million in salary cap space this offseason. Which free agents should they bring back, and which are better left off hitting the open market?

    Top Bengals offensive free agents

    On the offensive side of the ball, Cincinnati doesn’t have too much to worry about.

    C.J. Uzomah | TE

    C.J. Uzomah quietly had the best season of his seven-year career, hauling in 49 receptions for 493 yards and 5 touchdowns. He has spent every one of those years with the Bengals, and I’m sure he would like to stay home.

    Uzomah’s contract was $6 million this year, and his market value is around a two-year deal worth $7 million annually. As the year continued, the Burrow-to-Uzomah connection began to spark, especially in the playoffs. Tight ends are oftentimes a QB’s best friend, so the Bengals would be wise to retain Uzomah.

    Riley Reiff and Quinton Spain | OL

    Cincinnati’s offensive line has been on the receiving end of criticism throughout recent memory. And while much of it is deserved, RT Riley Reiff and LG Quinton Spain quietly played well in 2021. The Bengals should re-sign both, even if they ultimately serve in backup roles next year. Reiff and Spain shouldn’t be too expensive.

    Top Bengals defensive free agents

    Here is where the real fun happens. The Bengals have several key pieces of their secondary hitting free agency in 2022, but who can they afford to let go?

    Jessie Bates III | S

    Fresh off of a second-team All-Pro campaign, Jessie Bates didn’t live up to the hype this season. Now, that doesn’t mean he was awful, as he may be the best pure free safety in the NFL. Nevertheless, after hauling in 3 interceptions in three straight seasons, Bates recorded just 1 in 2021.

    Additionally, he produced 7, 9, and 15 pass deflections in his first three years — he generated only 4 this season. Still, Bates has turned it on in the playoffs, and he will play a huge role in their success against the Rams in the Super Bowl.

    Eli Apple, Vernon Hargreaves III, and Tre Flowers | CB

    These three cornerbacks have contributed to a defense that has largely outperformed expectations in 2021. Receivers have exposed Eli Apple at times, but he has come into his own down the stretch. Meanwhile, Vernon Hargreaves III and Tre Flowers joined the team midseason but have played significant snaps.

    Apple has played the most snaps among Cincy’s CBs, and if the Bengals don’t bring him back, they will have a hole to fill. And while Hargreaves and Flowers have seen a plethora of snaps, neither has done enough to inspire confidence.

    Larry Ogunjobi, B.J. Hill, and Josh Tupou | DT

    Like their cornerback room, the Bengals may have a drastically different defensive tackle unit next year. Larry Ogunjobi was third on the team with 7 sacks and provided a consistent pass rush. B.J. Hill is the team’s second-best run-stuffer opposite D.J. Reader. And finally, Josh Tupou is fourth in the defensive tackle rotation, though he hasn’t been all that impressive. Ogunjobi, Hill, and Tupou are all on expiring contracts.

    Reader is a stud on his own, but he can’t do it all. If the Bengals can swing it, which they should be able to with all their cap space, they should retain both Ogunjobi and Hill. Ogunjobi may ask for an expensive contract due to his sack totals, but Hill is arguably the better overall player.

    The Bengals’ other free agents in 2022

    • Brandon Allen | QB
    • Mike Thomas | WR
    • Auden Tate | WR
    • Jordan Evans | LB
    • Jalen Davis | CB
    • Darius Phillips | CB
    • Ricardo Allen | S
    • Clark Harris | LS
    • Kevin Huber | P
    • Stanley Morgan | WR (RFA)
    • Fred Johnson | G (RFA)
    • Trenton Irwin | WR (ERFA)
    • Mitchell Wilcox | TE (ERFA)
    • Wyatt Ray | EDGE (ERFA)
    • Clay Johnston | LB (ERFA)

    Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast!

    Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast! Click the embedded player below to listen, or you can find the PFN Fantasy Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms.  Be sure to subscribe and leave us a five-star review!

    Related Articles