Bengals free agents overview, keep or let go verdicts

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Chris Roling
·9 min read
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The Cincinnati Bengals have a large free-agent class ahead of the 2021 market’s opening.

William Jackson and Carl Lawson are the big names after neither received a franchise tag. But a wealth of others are about to hit the open market too.

Technically, legal tampering begins Monday, so the Bengals have a little bit of time left to wrap guys up before the market opens on Wednesday. Here’s a look at the full class and verdicts on each.

WR A.J. Green

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (18) catches a pass in the fourth quarter of the NFL Week 14 game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Dallas Cowboys at Paul Brown Stadium in downtown Cincinnati on Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020. Former Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton led the Cowboys to a 30-7 over the Bengals.
Dallas Cowboys At Cincinnati Bengals

Verdict: Let go It has been a fun ride with Green, but last year's production made it clear his time in Cincinnati is up. He'll probably have to settle for a short prove-it deal somewhere else while the Bengals seek out a better fit alongside Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins.

S Shawn Williams

Dec 6, 2020; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Cincinnati Bengals strong safety Shawn Williams (36) leaves the field after being ejected from the game against the Miami Dolphins during the second half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Verdict: Let go Like Green, Williams had a fun run in Cincinnati. But he's been on the decline and the team needs to get younger in the secondary with Jessie Bates leading the way.

WR John Ross

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver John Ross (15) warms up before the Week 4 NFL preseason game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Cincinnati Bengals, Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018, at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati.
Indianapolis Colts Vs Cincinnati Bengals Preseason Game Aug 30

Verdict: Let go It just didn't work with Ross for a variety of reasons. There's always a chance he could head elsewhere and have a breakout. But the Bengals are looking at revamping the wideout room for the most part after the top two.

CB Mackensie Alexander

Philadelphia Eagles' Greg Ward (84) scores a touchdown past Cincinnati Bengals' Mackensie Alexander (21) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

Verdict: Let go Alexander had a predictably solid year for the Bengals in the slot after inking a one-year deal. But all hints from the team and otherwise seem to be that he'll head elsewhere.

P Kevin Huber

Jan 1, 2017; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals punter Kevin Huber (10) against the Baltimore Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 27-10. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Verdict: Keep Huber has been nothing but solid and should continue on that trajectory. The Bengals already wrapped up longsnapper Clark Harris, so this just feels like a matter of time.

CB William Jackson

Nov 1, 2020; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bengals cornerback William Jackson (22) warms up before a game against the Tennessee Titans at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Verdict: Keep The Bengals haven't always played Jackson to his strengths, yet he's flashed elite play anyway. He'll be arguably the best corner on the open market, which speaks to why the team should pay up and keep him. It's going to be easier to build around Jackson than it is to replace him, then build around that replacement.

WR Alex Erickson

Aug 15, 2019; Landover, MD, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Alex Erickson (12) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Washington Redskins during the second half at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Verdict: Let go This might seem like blasphemy because Erickson has been so solid when on the field or on special teams, but the Bengals should stick with the revamp at wideout and seek out fresh faces.

TE Cethan Carter

Aug 11, 2017; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals tight end Cethan Carter (82) runs against Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Ryan Smith (29) during the second half at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Verdict: Keep The Bengals have a good thing going at tight end with C.J. Uzomah and Drew Sample, but there's no reason to let outstanding depth like Carter get away.

S Brandon Wilson

Oct 13, 2019; Baltimore, MD, USA; Cincinnati Bengals defensive back Brandon Wilson (40) returns a kick during the first quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Verdict: Keep Wilson has proven to be one of the league's most dangerous returners, so the idea is to get him back under contract almost for that alone. He's still seemingly got some upside in the base defense too.

G Alex Redmond

Aug 26, 2018; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Cincinnati Bengals offensive guard Alex Redmond (62) on the field prior to a game against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Verdict: Let go Redmond should be part of the purge along the offensive line. Guard is a key spot for the Bengals to upgrade this season and they will need the roster spots for the new arrivals.

K Randy Bullock

Cincinnati Bengals kicker Randy Bullock (4) kicks in the third quarter of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020, in Cleveland. The Browns won 35-30. (AP Photo/David Richard)

Verdict: Let go Bullock had been a solid player for the Bengals for a little while before imploding down the stretch last season and getting benched. It seems like the team could opt to draft a potential long-term replacement.

CB LeShaun Sims

Cincinnati Bengals free safety Jessie Bates (30) celebrates with Cincinnati Bengals cornerback LeShaun Sims (38) after intercepting a pass in the end zone for a touchback in the first quarter of the NFL game between Cincinnati Bengals and Tennessee Titans on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020, in Cincinnati.
Cincinnati Bengals At Tennessee Titans

Verdict: Let go Sims looked like an underrated get for the Bengals last year based on his solid play elsewhere. But the fit or something else just didn't work, as opponents successfully picked on him whenever he got on the field.

LB Josh Bynes

Sep 13, 2020; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler (30) tackled by Cincinnati Bengals middle linebacker Josh Bynes (56) during the second quarter at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Verdict: Keep The Bengals seem to have a good thing going with the youthful linebacker room. There's nothing wrong with keeping Bynes around again to serve as a mentor-type and solid depth option.

DL Christian Covington

Aug 18, 2018; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans defensive end Christian Covington (95) on the sideline during the game against the San Francisco 49ers at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Verdict: Let go The Bengals are going to get interior guys like Renell Wren and Josh Tupou back next season, curing some of the depth issues. Defensive tackle could still be one of those spots they look to upgrade in free agency or the draft.

DT Mike Daniels

Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Mike Daniels (76) tackles Los Angeles Chargers running back Justin Jackson (22) in the first quarter during a Week 1 NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020, at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati.
Los Angeles Chargers At Cincinnati Bengals Sept 13

Verdict: Keep If the Bengals are going to keep one of their free-agent interior guys, it should probably be Daniels. When healthy, he still flashed some of that solid play that makes him a savvy veteran worth keeping in town.

DL Margus Hunt

Dec 6, 2020; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins running back Myles Gaskin (37) stiff arms Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Margus Hunt (70) during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Verdict: Let go Hunt was a fun little surprise upon his return to the team that drafted him. That seemed to speak more to the sour state of the roster at that point than anything else.

DL Xavier Williams

Jan 20, 2019; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Xavier Williams (98) against the New England Patriots during the AFC championship game at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Verdict: Let go Williams didn't see a ton of snaps but was still solid depth for a desperate team. But his roster spot will go to guys like Wren and new faces next year.

WR Mike Thomas

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Mike Thomas celebrates after scoring a 4-yard touchdown during the second half of the team's NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

Verdict: Let go Thomas was an interesting add because of his prior connection with Zac Taylor in Los Angeles. But the revamp of the wideout room figures to mean he won't be back.

EDGE Carl Lawson

Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Carl Lawson (58) walks the sideline between drives in the second quarter of the NFL Week 1 game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Los Angeles Chargers at Paul Brown Stadium in downtown Cincinnati on Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020.
Los Angeles Chargers At Cincinnati Bengals

Verdict: Keep There's no excuse for letting Lawson get away. He's one of the best pass-rushers to hit the market and has said he wants to be back. Nobody came close to matching what Lawson did for the Bengals last year and trying to replace him would be almost impossible. He could represent a key moment for the Bengals over the next few days.

RB Samaje Perine

Dec 6, 2020; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins nose tackle Raekwon Davis (98) attempts to tackle Cincinnati Bengals running back Samaje Perine (34)during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Verdict: Let go Cincinnati figures to add more depth to the running back spot in the draft, if nothing else. Perine is quality depth, but he's got the negative of age working against him at a devalued position.

LB Jordan Evans

Cincinnati Bengals outside linebacker Jordan Evans (50) wraps up Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew (15) for a sack in the fourth quarter of the NFL Week 4 game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Jacksonville Jaguars at Paul Brown Stadium in downtown Cincinnati on Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020. The Bengals collected their first win of the season, 33-25, from the Jaguars.
Jacksonville Jaguars At Cincinnati Bengals

Verdict: Keep Evans has made a fun turnaround of sorts on special teams and it wouldn't hurt to keep him in town and keep that nice momentum going for both the player and units alike.

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