For the second consecutive season, the Cincinnati Bengals made it to the AFC Championship Game and took on the Chiefs in Kansas City. But they were unable to get the win, as they had in 2021. This is one of the best teams in the league over the last two years and they just need one more strong offseason to get over the hump.
BetOhio.com is focusing on the two NFL teams in the state as they prepare for the critical period of free agency. We also will look at some good picks and bad by the Cincinnati and see what the oddsmakers think about the Bengals odds to win the Super Bowl.
NFL free agency starts March 15 at 4 p.m. but there is a legal negotiating period starting March 13 at noon.
Where the Bengals Stand
The good news for Bengals fans and their backers in Ohio sports betting is that they are in fantastic cap shape compared to the other AFC contenders. While teams like the Buffalo Bills and the Chiefs are close to $20 million over the cap, the Bengals have nearly $35 million in cap space before any potential roster cuts.
Of course, the Bengals could release some aging veterans, such as Tyler Boyd, Joe Mixon and La’el Collins and save another $22 million against the cap. But they certainly aren’t forced to do that given their current cap situation.
The Bengals have some notable free agents, including safeties Jessie Bates and Vonn Bell. However, it seems very unlikely the Bengals will pay up to keep Bates, who looks to be one of the highest-paid safeties on the market. Bell could return in 2023, but it's important to remember that the Bengals did use the No. 31 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft on Dax Hill to replace either safety should they leave in free agency.
Hayden Hurst is also another important free agent; he was a big upgrade at tight end for the Bengals. While his overall stats aren’t that impressive, he did perform well in the playoff games and gave Joe Burrow another reliable option. But it does seem like the Bengals might move on from him and potentially try to upgrade that position in free agency or the draft.
But what outside free agents could the Bengals target? The offensive line continues to be their biggest problem, specifically right tackle. Collins could return in 2023, but he is coming off a torn ACL and didn’t play well even when he was healthy. The Titans recently released Taylor Lewan, who has expressed an interest in playing with Burrow. But he hasn't been very durable over the last few years and only has played left tackle in the NFL.
A more realistic option could be Jermaine Eluemunor, the starting right tackle for the Raiders last season. He is a bit older (28) but has the position flexibility to play four different spots for the Bengals. He could be a fit if the Bengals do decide to retain Collins as Eluemunor would improve their overall depth on the offensive line.
While the offensive line will get a lot of attention for the Bengals, don’t expect them to ignore defense either. The Bengals could use more secondary help, specifically at cornerback. Eli Apple is a free agent and the Bengals might decide to move on. If that’s the case, look for them to target long and athletic cornerbacks. Could the Bengals pay up for someone like Jamel Dean, who is widely viewed as the top cornerback on the market? Or what about Patrick Peterson, who had a standout season for the Vikings in 2022? Look for the Bengals to add one, if not two, quality cornerbacks this offseason.
Expect the Bengals to be highly aggressive this offseason as they are in a championship window with a star quarterback on a rookie deal. Accordingly to most bookmakers currently, the Bengals chances to make the playoffs are among the best in the league. With the Bengals Super Bowl odds ranking No. 2 in the league, this is the time for the Bengals to go all-in as they search for their first-ever Super Bowl win.
Bengals and Free Agency
BetOhio.com looks at some recent free agent moves by the Cincinnati Bengals.
Free Agent Hits
Free Agent Misses
What Do Oddsmakers Expect from 2023 Bengals?
Tipico Ohio Sportsbook has the Bengals as the fifth pick to win the Super Bowl at +900, behind the defending champion Chiefs (+550), Bills (+700), Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers (both +750).
The same odds and positioning are true for the Bengals at FanDuel Ohio Sportsbook. Fan Duel also has the Bengals (+125) as the clear favorite in the AFC North, ahead of the Baltimore Ravens (+225), Cleveland Browns (+400) and Pittsburgh Steelers (+550).
BetOhio.com has been all over the sports betting scene since the state launched on Jan. 1. The site also is a great source for Ohio sportsbook promos..