In the Bengals first season under head coach, Zac Taylor, they had their worst season in franchise history, finishing at the bottom of the league with a 2-14 record. However, Taylor’s second year in Cincinnati could be filled with improvements.
The Bengals were very active in free agency, spending a lot of money to improve their roster. Pairing their free agent spending and top picks in each round of April’s draft, the Bengals added some major upgrades to their entire roster, creating a roster full of competition.
Key Additions: G Xavier Su’a-Filo, DT D.J. Reader, LB Josh Bynes, CB Trae Waynes, CB Mackensie Alexander, S Von Bell, QB Joe Burrow, and WR Tee Higgins
Key Departures: QB Andy Dalton, TE Tyler Eifert, OT Cordy Glenn, G John Miller, DT Andrew Billings, LB Nick Vigil, CB Darqueze Dennard, CB Dre Kirkpatrick, and S Clayton Fejedelem
Now, let’s take a look at the new Bengals roster for 2020.
Starter: Joe Burrow
Backups: Ryan Finley and Jake Dolegala
The Bengals released longtime QB and franchise cornerstone, Andy Dalton, in April, following the NFL Draft. With the No. 1 overall pick in April’s draft, they selected their new franchise QB in Joe Burrow.
Burrow put up one of the best seasons in college football history, setting a new record with 65 total touchdowns, leading the LSU Tigers to an undefeated season capped off with a National Championship victory. He now takes over as the future of the Bengals franchise, looking to translate his senior success success to the NFL.
Starter: Joe Mixon
Backups: Giovani Bernard, Samaje Perine, Rodney Anderson, Trayveon Williams, Jacques Patrick, and Dewah Whaley
Joe Mixon enters his fourth season with the Bengals, and is coming off of two straight 1,000-yard rushing seasons. Mixon is a great runner and is developing more into the receiving game, setting a career-high in receiving touchdown last season, with three.
Mixon and Giovani Bernard have become a solid run-catch duo out of the backfield with Mixon carrying the run game and Bernard carrying the receiving end. Both look to continue their lead roles in the backfield in 2020.
The Bengals carried only three RBs on the 53-man roster. This year looks to be different as Anderson and Williams are coming off injuries and Perine was a top waiver claim last year.
Jacques Patrick comes from the XFL and is a very physical runner, standing at 6’2” and 234 pounds. Over his five games with the Tampa Bay Vipers, he rushed for 254 yards and two touchdowns.
Starters: A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, and Tee Higgins
Backups: John Ross, Alex Erickson, Mike Thomas, Auden Tate, Damion Willis, Stanley Morgan, Trenton Irwin, DaMarkus Lodge, and Scotty Washington
A.J. Green, who didn’t play a down last year, returns to Cincinnati on the franchise tag in 2020. Over the first seven years of his nine year career, Green was selected to the Pro bowl and had 1,000 yards receiving in six of those years. His health has held him back in recent years, hopefully he can bounce back in 2020.
Tyler Boyd has stepped up in the absence of Green, recording two straight 1,000-yard receiving seasons. He has emerged as a solid receiving option in the Bengals offense.
Rookie Tee Higgins will round out the starting WR trio. The second-round pick in April’s draft, shined with the Clemson tigers the past two season, tallying over 2,100 receiving yards and 26 touchdowns. He edges John Ross for the final starter spot, with Ross playing a key role in the offense after a strong showing in only eight games last year, averaging 18.1 yards per catch.
Burrow has a great arsenal of weapons at the WR position and their production is going to be high with Burrow’s talent and leadership.
Starter: Drew Sample
Backups: CJ Uzomah, Cethan Carter, Mason Schreck, Jordan Franks, Moritz Bohringer, and Mitchell Wilcox
Uzomah is a solid tight end TE option. He possesses good size and hands with good blocking abilities and athleticism that adds to the passing game. Last year, Uzomah recorded 242 yards and two touchdowns on 27 receptions.
Carter is a big special teams contributor, who had his first NFL catch in the end zone for a touchdown last year. Cincinnati’s second-round pick last year, Drew Sample, had his rookie season cut short by injury. He looks to return and become a big piece in the offensive game this year.
Wilcox is one of their more coveted undrafted rookies with his well-rounded skill set, creating a battle royale for what could be the final spot among players like Schreck and Franks that have experience playing in games and working on the practice squad.
Starters: Jonah Williams (LT), Michael Jordan (LG), Trey Hopkins (C), Xavier Su’a-Filo (RG), and Bobby Hart (RT)
Backups: Alex Redmond (G), Billy Price (C/G), O’Shea Dugas (T), Fred Johnson (T/G), Isaiah Prince (T), Hakeem Adeniji (T/G), Clay Cordasco (G/T), and Josh Knipfel (G/T)
After losing Cordy Glenn and Jon Miller in free agency this year, Jonah Williams and Xavier Su’a-Filo take over on the front line protecting Burrow. It appears the Bengals want to have Fred Johnson and Hakeem Adeniji swing at both the guard and tackle positions. Redmond’s size is a huge plus for depth on the line. Redmond and 2018 first-round pick, Billy Price, bring seasoned depth with 35 starts combined between the two. Price has started at all three interior spots for the Bengals.
Starters: Carlos Dunlap (DE), Geno Atkins (DT), D.J. Reader (DT), and Sam Hubbard (DE)
Backups: Ryan Glasgow (T), Carl Lawson (DE), Josh Tupou (NT), Andrew Brown (DE), Renell Wren (NT), Trey Dishon (T), Khalid Kareem (DE), and Kendall Futrell (DE)
The Bengals have one of the best defensive lines in the entire league. Across the four starting defensive linemen, they have a combined 178 career sacks and 234 tackles for loss. They bring a lot of pressure and physicality up front, becoming a nightmare for opposing offensive lines and running backs.
This offseason, the Bengals made Reader the highest-paid nose tackle in the NFL, solidifying the defensive line and have depth with Josh Tupuo, who was tedndered for another season. Renell Wren’s size is a huge plus to the depth behind Reader and Atkins.
Dunlap, Hubbard, and Lawson are going to hold down the two edges with Kareem in position to take man the fourth DE spot. Brown has versatility as both a tackle and end, making him a depth asset. Clark and Futrell are great UDFA pieces that have a chance to make the 55-man roster.
Starters: Germaine Pratt (MLB) and Josh Bynes (SLB)
Backups: Logan Wilson, Jordan Evans, Akeem Davis-Gaither, Austin Calitro, Markus Bailey, and Marcel Spears Jr.
Pratt, Evans, and Bynes are going to lead the LB unit as it is full of youth, including four rookies. Bynes joins the Bengals after spending the first eight years of his career with the Ravens, Lions, and Cardinals. Pratt, who was a third-round pick in the 2019 draft, looks to build off his solid rookie campaign , recording 76 tackles.
Third-round draft pick, Logan Wilson, and fourth-round pick, Akeem Davis-Gaither, are going to be young pieces that will get snaps this year to aid their development.
Starters: Trae Waynes, William Jackson III, and Mackensie Alexander
Backups: Darius Phillips, Greg Mabin, Brandon Wilson, Tony Brown, Torry McTyer, LeShaun Sims, and Isaiah Swann
The CB position took some big hits this offseason, losing Darqueze Dennard and Dre Kirkpatrick. However, the Bengals responded and added former Vikings CBs Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander. Over the first five seasons of his career, Waynes has beeen productive with five interceptions and 42 passes defensed. By doing this, it really opened their draft plan by addressing one of their biggest needs.
There are more new, experienced faces at the CB position with Sims, who played for Tennessee during the last four seasons, appearing in 56 games with 11 starts, and Brown, who played 20 games in the previous two seasons in Green Bay.
Starters: Vonn Bell and Jessie Bates III
Backups: Shawn Williams and Trayvon Henderson
The safety position is going to lead the entire secondary. Vonn Bell has the veteran experience and leadership that will pair with Waynes and the rest of the secondary. Jessie Bates has been a terrific piece of the defense in his first two seasons. He has had over 100 tackles each season with six total interceptions and 16 passes defensed.
Shawn Williams and Trayvon Henderson will be great depth pieces for the back end of the secondary as Williams set a career-high 114 tackles last year and Henderson returning from injury.
Starters: Randy Bullock (K), Kevin Huber (P), and Clark Harris
Bullock has a chance to put himself at the top of franchise history this season in accuracy as he enters his fifth season with the Bengals. Huber and Harris, also have the opportunity to move up in franchise history as they will both enter the top six in career games played in a Bengals uniform if they play all 16 games in 2020.
The Bengals have transformed their roster since the start of the offseason and expect them to improve from last year. The defense has a great from four and solid pieces in secondary. The offense has a new leader in Burrow and a great arsenal of weapons for him at both the RB and WR positions.