Who's New? Bengals Roster Re-Set After Free-Agency Flurry

The signing of Riley Reiff to play right tackle gives them flexibility.
The signing of Riley Reiff to play right tackle gives them flexibility.

After the first ten revolving-door days of NFL free agency, here is one person's roster re-set and pure speculation on what could be next at each position. Be aware that the Bengals are still immersed in setting their starting lineups and depth. (Number of NFL seasons in parenthesis.)

QUARTERBACKS

PROJECTED STARTER: Joe Burrow (2)

BACKUPS: Brandon Allen (5), Kyle Shurmur (1)

WHAT'S NEXT? The great news here is that the Bengals felt encouraged enough about Burrow's rehab to end the Ryan Finley Era. Burrow has vowed to start the regular-season opener, but no one seems to know at what point he'll be back in August when it looks like they'll play three pre-season games. So they could pick up another young veteran to get them through, but Allen would likely still be the unquestioned two.

WIDE RECEIVERS

PROJECTED STARTERS: Tyler Boyd (6), Tee Higgins (2)

BACKUPS: Auden Tate (4), Mike Thomas (6), Stanley Morgan (3), Trenton Irwin (1), Scotty Washington (1)

WHAT'S NEXT: Tate is the next man up in a three-receiver set, but could a speedy outside guy be on the agenda? They figure to add here, particularly in the draft. The Bengals haven't officially announced the Mike Thomas signing, but it's been reported after his 13-catch season and special teams role last year. With the vacancy of backup slot receiver Alex Erickson, replacing their primary punt returner of the past five seasons looks to fall to cornerback Darius Phillips at the moment.

OFFENSIVE LINE

PROJECTED STARTERS: LT Jonah Williams (3), LG Xavier Su'a-Filo (8), C Trey Hopkins (6), RG Quinton Spain (7), RT Riley Reiff (10)

BACKUPS: G-T Hakeem Adeniji (2), T Fred Johnson (3), C Billy Price (4), G Michael Jordan (3), G Keaton Sutherland (3), T Isaiah Prince (2).

WHAT'S NEXT?: We think this lineup may be blown to bits at the draft. Don't count out Adeniji's athleticism at one of the guards. The signing of Reiff gives them flexibility, maybe moving him inside. Stay tuned. Anything goes. Spain's return hasn't been officially announced by the team, but has been reported.

RUNNING BACKS

PROJECTED STARTER: Joe Mixon (5)

BACKUPS: Giovani Bernard (9), Samaje Perine (5), Trayveon Williams (3), Jacques Patrick (1)

WHAT'S NEXT: The news of the day is that Bernard has come up in trade talks. That would save them $4 million under a salary cap that tightened when they spent north of $30 million last week on five new starters. They have a back-up bell cow back in Perine, but do they have a third-down back successor to Bernard? Not one who has done it. They could look elsewhere in the market or the draft if they feel they need a lighter number there. What doesn't show in the accounting is Bernard's enormous leadership.

TIGHT ENDS

PROJECTED STARTER: C.J. Uzomah (7)

BACKUPS: Drew Sample (2), Mason Schreck (4), Mitchell Wilcox (1).

WHAT'S NEXT: With Uzomah coming back from a torn Achilles that cost him all but a game and half and Sample off a ton of seasoning in his second year, there's not much to be done here.

DEFENSIVE LINE

PROJECTED STARTERS: LE Sam Hubbard (4), DT Larry Ogunjobi (5), NT D.J. Reader (6), RE Trey Hendrickson (5)

BACKUPS: NT Josh Tupou (4), NT Renell Wren (3), T Kahlil McKenzie (3), T Freedom Akinmoladun (1), E Khalid Kareem (2).

WHAT'S NEXT: A good draft for edge rushers and the Bengals are still looking for them in free agency even after giving Hendrickson a record deal. It's believed Tupou returns after an opt-out, beefing up the middle. Vet tackle Mike Daniels reportedly remains an option. And they figure to be on the alert for more young three techniques with Ogunjobi on a one-year deal.

LINEBACKERS

PROJECTED STARTERS: Logan Wilson (2), Germaine Pratt (3)

BACKUPS: Akeem Davis-Gaither (2), Markus Bailey (2), Keandre Jones (1)

WHAT'S UP NEXT: Other than maybe adding another vet, they pretty much did their work in last year's draft with Wilson going from the third round to the starting lineup and Davis-Gaither and Bailey looking to make that first to second year leap.

SECONDARY

PROJECTED STARTERS: CB Trae Waynes (7), SS Vonn Bell (6), FS Jessie Bates III (4), SCB Mike Hilton (5), CB Chidobe Awuzie (5)

BACKUPS: CB Darius Phillips (4), CB Tony Brown (4), CB Eli Apple (6), CB Jalen Davis (2), CB Winston Rose (1), CB Donnie Lewis (1); S Brandon Wilson (5), S Ricardo Allen (7), S Trayvon Henderson (2).

WHAT'S NEXT: Not much with 13 players under contract and oodles of cash spent on Bell, Waynes, Awuzie and Hilton in the last two free agencies. Allen hasn't been announced by the club, but his one-year deal has been reported. He joins Bell with the most NFL games played on defense (77).

SPECIALISTS

KICKER: Austin Seibert (3).

PUNTER: Kevin Huber (13).

LONG SNAPPER: Clark Harris (13), Dan Godsil (1).

WHAT's NEXT: Figure on a camp kicking competition, so they'll sign one. But if you're thinking about the draft, think about this: In his 19th season, Bengals specials teams coordinator Darrin Simmons is the longest-tenured kicking coach in the game and has drafted one (1) kicker.

Check out some of the best images of the five free agent signings: CB Chidobe Awuzie, DE Trey Hendrickson, CB Mike Hilton, DT Larry Ogunjobi and OT Riley Reiff.

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