Click here to return to the 2023 Reports List

Cincinnati Bengals February Scouting Report
Mark Huber

With Tee Higgins getting most of the attention, the Bengals begin the offseason with plenty on their to-do list.

There are 20 players who can become free agents when the new league year begins March 13.

According to, Cincinnati will have roughly 59 million in cap space with 48 players signed to deals for 2024. The can achieve more cap space with basic restructures, points out, but the Bengals don’t like dead money in the cap so if restructures create dead money then don’t look for that to happen with too many players.

In 2025 that signed numbers drops to 24, then to 12 in 2026.

By position, Cincinnati does not have a tight end under contract for 2024.

Here is a look by position at the Bengals as the off-season nears:

Quarterback: QB Joe Burrow is the unquestioned man going forward and has a $29 million salary for 2024, so plenty of wiggle room to make other pieces fit with his salary. He is the only quarterback signed for 2024. FA chances: QB Jake Browning did himself good this season for the injured Burrow. If I were him, I’d resign with Cincinnati because I know the people and the system. I know my place on the team and I know I can win if the starter goes down. Could Browning get more money on the open market? Maybe but deep in my heart I think he’s a backup wherever he lands. Veteran signing possible if Browning leaves. Draft chances: Maybe late if someone the team likes falls in the draft. This player, though low on the fantasy radar, could be groomed to be the primary backup if Browning leaves and a veteran free agent is signed to be number two this coming season.

Running back: RB Joe Mixon has a cap hit of $8.8 million in 2024 but his salary is just $5.7 million. Both RB Chris Evans and RB Chase Brown are near the $1 million mark. Mixon had good numbers this past season but just looked slow most of the year like most backs who have been around six or more years. He had his moments and the team could do worse but fresh legs are needed. Brown looked so much better based purely on the eye test. Mixon will likely stick around but youth or a back with more juice needs to get more opportunities to take this offense to the next level. FA chances: Some have suggested RB Saquon Barkley would be a good fit for Cincinnati. Barkley would fit anywhere but my guess would be a high salary short term deal is more likely for him. Could be a one year overpay (not to be confused with a one year prove it deal). Generally, given the recent history of running backs, a major splash signing is unlikely. Draft chances: I think Brown secured the starter role when Mixon is gone. But a young guy is likely to be drafted late and that means, again the way runners are sliding, it could be someone with some fantasy relevance.

Wide receiver: WR Tyler Boyd, WR Tee Higgings and WR Trenton Irwin are free agents. After WR Ja’Marr Chase, the Bengals have young mostly unproven players for Burrow to throw to in 2024. I could see the Bengals tagging Higgins at $20-$25 million for one year and seeing how the youngsters develop. Chase is going to get a big bump in 2025 before hitting free agency in 2026. But for 2024 Higgins is likely to be the highest paid pass catcher on the team. FA chances: Outside the team’s current free agents, I would say a vet minimum type signing is the only way to go unless the team has completely soured on WR Andrei Iosivas and WR Charlie Jones. Draft chances: Again slim but this is a good, deep wide receiver class so a third or even fouirth round rookie could have some juice.

Tight end: None are signed for 2024. FA chances/Draft chances: I roll this in to one because the history of Burrow and the tight end is not great in Cincinnati from a fantasy standpoint. They’ve been okay but not great, even when targets are to be had so they will sign or draft a few but unless TE Brock Bowers drops to 18 in the draft I don’t see this being a big splash either in free agency or the draft.

Offensive line: There are 10 of the top 11 linemen signed for 2024 with RT Jonah WIlliams the only big-name free agent. FA chances: Only three linemen are signed for 2025 and Cincinnati is more likely to draft for the future than immediate need. So it would not be a shock if the team signed a starting right tackle as I don’t see a sure-fire starter on the roster. Draft chances: A good chance one is selected early. At 18 it would not be a complete surprise if the team traded down a few spots, still secured a future offensive line starter and added a few picks.

Defensive line: There are 11 of the top 12 linemen signed with DT D.J. Reader the only free agent of note. In 2025, there are five signed and four of them are potential starters. FA Chances: Reader will be the wild card. He is coming off an injury and may not be 100 percent to start the season. He could resign at a lower cost for one year, get healthy and be a force down the stretch for another Super Bowl run, then cash in for 2025 season. Either way a defensive tackle is needed inside to help stop the run. Draft Chances: I would say mid-round is a spot for an interior tackle.

Linebackers: There are five solid players signed for 2024. This team uses LB Logan Wilson and LB Germaine Pratt as the primary players and the rest more situational and on special teams. FA chances: Maybe a lower level free agent signing but nothing big. Draft chances: Most certainly a late-round guy to infuse some fresh legs on the depth chart.

Defensive backs: 10 of the top 11 are signed with DB Chidobe Awuzie the only free agent. This is a young bunch that struggled at times last season. Will they get better? Probably. Will they need help to improve as a unit? I would say yes. FA chances: This could be a good spot for a signing. Awuzie would be my choice. When healthy this guy can play. He may price himself out of Cincinnati but a front-loaded deal that is cap friendly beyond one year could bring him back. Draft chances: Low on the scale. Again a young group so they need to play into their roles. Youth is not needed unless it’s a can’t miss prospect.

Special Teams: PK Evan McPherson is good for one more season then he is a free agent. PU Brad Robbins is on the books for three more years but he could be gone. He had a middling year at best and a new guy could come in if the team doesn’t feel like he can improve his game.And here’s what to know for each free agent designation.



Back to top of page
FFMastermind Logo

The Definitive Fantasy Information Service

Mastermind Moment Wins Another $1,500!
Sunday, January 7th, 2024

Many patrons ask Why should they subscribe to Premium Services when they are other cheaper services? Well,'s Michael Nazarek did it again!

Read the Full Mastermind Moment