* = 2019 full-time starter

Need #1: Quarterback

Notable Free Agents:

  • None

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Andy Dalton (high-level backup QB... keyword "backup," time for organization to move on)
  • Ryan Finley (2019 3rd rounder, made 3 starts - which did not go well, did show some promise in the preseason, still has some upside)

Need Level: Very High

Need to Address:

  • The Bengals need to add a franchise QB - his name is Joe Burrow.

Updates:

  • Round 1: Joe Burrow (coming off one of the most impressive seasons in college football history, Burrow has the makings of franchise-changing QB)

Need #2: Linebacker

Notable Free Agents:

  • Nick Vigil* (best coverage LB on the team in 2019, lots of missed tackles though, team may opt for an upgrade)

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Germaine Pratt (2019 3rd rounder, took on a larger role later in season and played quite well, could be a stand-out starter in 2020)
  • Jordan Evans (2017 6th rounder, mainly a special teams player)

Need Level: Very High

Need to Address:

  • The Bengals must address two starting linebacker spots in the offseason.

Updates:

  • Signed Josh Bynes (30 years old, made 7 productive starts for Ravens in 2019, historically has been more of backup/special teamer, but will have an opportunity to win starting job in Cincy)
  • Round 3: Logan Wilson (super-productive at Wyoming, a good athlete who excels in coverage, a logical replacement for Vigil)
  • Round 4: Akeem Davis-Gaither (explosive athlete who recorded impressive pass rush / TFL production at App St, on the smaller side physically, could compete for a featured defensive role as a rookie, should at very least become a core special teamer)
  • Round 7: Markus Bailey (solid all-around LB, a bit limited athletically, fell in draft due to injuries)

Need #3: Wide Receiver

Notable Free Agents:

  • A.J. Green (legendary Bengal who has only played in 35/64 possible games over the past 4 seasons, missed entire 2019 season, but did display WR1 traits in 2018, team will likely give him another shot in 2020)

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Tyler Boyd* (has quietly emerged as one of the league's better slot WRs, will be a nice security blanket for the Bengals 2020 QB)
  • John Ross (when healthy has flashed the playmaking ability that made him the #8 overall pick in 2017, but has only played in 24/48 games across his 3 seasons)
  • Auden Tate (got an opportunity due to the injuries at the position and put up decent numbers, should factor into the WR2 conversation in 2020)
  • Alex Erickson (return man and slot WR, had most productive season in 2019, a solid player)

Need Level: High

Need to Address:

  • The Bengals need to address WR1 (either resign or replace AJ Green) and bring on competition/upgrades to push Tate and Ross for featured offensive roles.

Updates:

  • Franchise-tagged A.J. Green
  • Signed Mike Thomas (the former Ram, not Saint, only has 10 career catches, but does have a history with HC Zac Taylor, roster spot far from guaranteed)
  • Round 2: Tee Higgins (productive college playmaker, tremendous size, good athlete, has a Pro Bowl / WR1 ceiling, an awesome target for Burrow to progress with)

Need #4: Interior Offensive Line

Notable Free Agents:

  • None

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Billy Price (2018 1st rounder, has made 18 inconsistent starts at center and guard, injuries have been an issue, buzz team is open to trading him)
  • Trey Hopkins* (2014 UDFA, won starting center job from Price, played well enough to earn a 3 year contract extension - locking him in as the team's starting center for the foreseeable future)
  • Michael Jordan (2019 4th rounder, made 9 below average starts as a rookie, good athlete who can improve in year 2, will be in contention for a starting job in 2020)
  • John Miller (13 game starter, not an impact-blocker, does not have a starting job locked down)

Need Level: High

Need to Address:

  • The Bengals need to bring in starting competition/upgrades at both guard spots.

Updates:

  • Released John Miller
  • Signed Xavier Su'a Filo (was a backup guard for the Cowboys - played fairly well when in the starting lineup, will compete for starting job in Cincy)

Need #5: Defensive Tackle

Notable Free Agents:

  • Andrew Billings* (underwhelming starter over the past 2 seasons, does not offer much pass rush, team expected to look for an upgrade)
  • Josh Tupou (made 7 starts in 2019, but better suited for a rotational/depth role)

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Geno Atkins* (sack total decreased in 2019, did make the Pro Bowl, still a strong player - but at 32 years old is no longer a long-term option)
  • Ryan Glasgow (showed some promise as a rookie in 2017 - but injuries have derailed his career since then, has some upside if he can stay on the field)
  • Renell Wren (2019 4th rounder, made 2 relatively unproductive starts as a rookie, has the size and athletic ability to be a difference maker, one to watch in 2020)

Need Level: Moderate

Need to Address: The Bengals need to add starting competition for unproven players like Wren and Glasgow. In addition they need to start preparing for life after Atkins.

Updates:

  • Resigned Josh Tupou
  • Signed D.J. Reader (excellent run-stuffing nose tackle, should be a huge upgrade for Bengals run defense, also has some pass rush ability, was expensive but should be a high-impact signing)

Need #6: Cornerback

Notable Free Agents:

  • Darqueze Dennard (2014 1st rounder, career has never really materialized, injuries have been a consistent limitation, when healthy has had some solid moments at nickel CB)

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • William Jackson III* (2016 1st rounder, had a mini-breakout in 2017, but quality of play has fallen off quite a bit since then, still a likely starter in 2020)
  • Dre Kirkpatrick* (has been a pretty solid and reliable CB for the Bengals ever since they drafted him in 2012 - but may be a cap casualty this offseason)
  • Darius Phillips (2018 5th rounder, wowed with 4 INTS on 109 snaps last season, injuries have limited him the past, definitely a name to watch going forward)

Need Level: Moderate

Need to Address:

  • The Bengals could use a refresh at CB - this is a unit that routinely underperforms.

Updates:

  • Signed Trae Waynes (Vikings took him the 1st round in 2015, but has never been more than an average to above average starting CB, which makes the large contract Cincy gave him a bit confusing, he does have the size and athletic tools to thrive, will start)
  • Signed Mackenzie Alexander (solid slot CB on a reasonable 1 year contract)
  • Signed LeShaun Sims (primarily a backup CB for the Titans - does have 11 career starts, has some upside, will compete for a role in what is becoming a crowded CB depth chart)
  • Released Dre Kirkpatrick (not a surprise - but fair to wonder if Waynes is actually an upgrade, age probably had a lot to do with this move)

Need #7: Defensive End

Notable Free Agents:

  • None

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Carlos Dunlap* (long-tenured player, led team in sacks with 9 - but 5.5 came in two games, still offers value but some feel he is more suited for a rotational role at this point)
  • Sam Hubbard* (2018 3rd rounder, has 14.5 sacks over 2 career seasons, locked into starting role, one of the better young players on the roster)
  • Carl Lawson (effective pass rusher when healthy, team seems to prefer him as a situational pass rusher instead of a full-time starter)
  • Andrew Brown (2018 5th rounder, spent 2018 on practice squad, made team in 2019 but did not see much playing time, will need to win roster spot in training camp again)

Need Level: Moderate

Need to Address:

  • The Bengals could stand to add a disruptive pass rusher who can compliment (and maybe eventually replace) Dunlap. They also need depth at the position.

Updates:

  • Round 5: Khalid Kareem (powerful edge rusher with limited athleticism, plays with good technique, likely a backup in NFL)

Need #8: Tight End

Notable Free Agents:

  • Tyler Eifert (finally completed a 16 game season in 2019 - but only made 4 starts, more of a role player than starter, injury concerns linger)

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • C.J. Uzomah* (started all 16 games and caught less than 30 passes... for less than 300 yards, even when factoring in the dysfunction at QB - those are not starting-caliber numbers)
  • Drew Sample (2019 2nd rounder, caught 5 passes in 9 games, will likely be given a more profound opportunity in 2020, but thought of more as a blocking specialist than a receiver)

Need Level: Mild

Need to Address:

  • The Bengals don't have a true TE1 - if an opportunity opens up to get one... they should take it.

Need #9: Offensive Tackle

Notable Free Agents:

  • Cordy Glenn (2 season tenure in Cincinnati was an absolute mess, he will not be back)

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Jonah Williams (2019 1st rounder, missed entire rookie year with injury, was an excellent college player, expected to start at LT in 2020)
  • Bobby Hart* (has made 32/32 starts at RT over past two seasons, but quality of play has been underwhelming and upgradeable)
  • Fred Johnson (showed promise as a starter over the final 2 weeks of the season, may be given a real shot to win a starting job)
  • Isaiah Prince (developmental OT)

Need Level: Mild

Need to Address:

  • The Bengals need to find an upgrade (or least bring in starting competition) at RT.

Updates:

  • Round 6: Hakeem Adeniji (good value on day 3, lots of starting of experience, some developmental upside, could also factor in at OG)

Need #10: Safety

Notable Free Agents:

  • Clayton Fejedelem (core special teamer)

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Jessie Bates* (2018 2nd rounder, solid production in both NFL seasons, defensive building block)
  • Shawn Williams* (long-tenured player, tough, led team in total tackles, not a standout in coverage, contract up next year)

Need Level: Mild

Need to Address:

  • The Bengals could begin the process of replacing Williams at safety.

Updates:

  • Signed Vonn Bell (excellent in-the-box safety, similar style player to Williams... but younger)

Need #11: Running Back

Notable Free Agents:

  • None

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Joe Mixon* (arguably the most talented offensive player on the team, 2019 production was quite impressive considering the sorry state of the Bengals o-line and passing game, legitimate 3 down workhorse)
  • Giovani Bernard (under 4 ypc for second straight season, wasn't all that explosive in the passing game either, a cheaper player can easily match the meager production)
  • Rodney Anderson (2019 6th rounder, major knee injuries have derailed his career to this point, though if he can stay healthy - there is exciting upside)
  • Trayveon Williams (2019 6th rounder, only played on special teams as a rookie, could be a possible replacement for Bernard at some point)

Need Level: Low

Need to Address:

  • The Bengals could add a RB late in the draft to add to the competition behind Mixon.

Need #12: Special Teams

Notable Free Agents:

  • None

Notable Players Under Contract:

  • Randy Bullock* (solid kicker - strong leg, above average accuracy)
  • Kevin Huber* (very good punter, coming off what was arguably his best career season - getting old though)

Need Level: Very Low

Need to Address:

  • The Bengals are in good shape at both kicker and punter.