The Cincinnati Bengals face a crucial off-season after losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game. The team has several players that carry a hefty price tag heading into 2023. Additionally, the Bengals front office has started internal discussions on a contract extension for franchise quarterback, Joe Burrow. The contract for Burrow may mirror that both in payment and structure to Patrick Mahomes. Even though the salary cap is increasing in 2023 to $224.8 million per team, the Bengals will be cognizant to spend their money wisely with several cornerstone pieces soon up for extension, including, Tee Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase. Let’s take a look at the Bengals roster and determine some potential cap casualties this upcoming season.
2023 Cincinnati Bengals Potential Cap Casualties
Running Back: Joe Mixon
Joe Mixon has been fantastic for the Bengals since the team drafted him in the second round of the 2017 NFL draft. Mixon is a stellar locker-room presence and has amassed 7141 yards from scrimmage with 50 total touchdowns. With his lackluster pass protection and the nature of running backs being so fluid in today’s NFL, Mixon is still expendable. The cap hit for Mixon in 2023 is massive at $12.7 million which makes up 5.6% of the Bengals cap. The sixth-year pro is a perfect restructuring candidate with the team still likely wanting him back in 2023.
Saving Cap Space
Offensive Tackle: La’el Collins
The Bengals signed La’el Collins last year in hopes he could provide stability at the right tackle position for years to come. Collins was a mixed bag in his first year in stripes and ended the season with a torn ACL and MCL. This latter point is important to note if the Bengals don’t feel he can adequately protect Burrow coming off his injury. The cap savings with a Collins release is also large at $6.2 million.
Wide Receiver: Tyler Boyd
Tyler Boyd has been at the front and center of Zac Taylor’s vision and rebuild since he was hired in 2019. Boyd, much like Mixon, is a culture builder and a consistent performer on the field. The importance of Boyd in the Bengals offense can’t be understated and was clearly evident when he left the game with a quadriceps injury against the Chiefs. Boyd is one of the best slot receivers in the NFL and those in-breaking routes over the middle of the field were limited in the AFCCG. Cutting Boyd would save almost $9 million but the feeling is that he plays the final year of his contract in 2023.
Likely Safe: Chidobe Awuzie
Chidobe Awuzie is one of the top, cover cornerbacks in the NFL. The Bengals took a chance when they signed him as a free agent from Dallas in 2021. He has played very well in his short time in Cincinnati and played a large role in the Bengals Super Bowl run last year. Awuzie is coming off an ACL injury but should be cleared by training camp. The front office will keep a close eye on his rehab in a similar manner to Collins. If the reports are good, Awuzie is likely back as a Bengal next season.
Embed from Getty Images