Duke Tobin and the Bengals have some of the most notable free cap space in the NFL as they charge into the offseason.
But with urgency to get Joe Burrow’s extension done and a laundry list of major names of their own headed to free agency, the front office will undoubtedly comb the roster looking for ways to free up even more cap space potentially.
Here’s a quick look at a few ways the Bengals could free up more cap space by cutting players or even doing the ultra-rare (for them, at least) contract restructure.
OT La'el Collins
This would be wild, right? In the span of one year, we could go from fans wandering through Kenwood Mall looking for Collins in an effort to recruit him to him cut?
But that’s just how the NFL goes sometimes. Cutting Collins pre-June 1 would save roughly $6 million and $7.7 million post-June 1. He’s got that big injury he’s working back from and has a spotty history with injuries as it is. If the Bengals plan on drafting a right tackle to start or even consider moving Jonah Williams or Jackson Carman around, they won’t want to pay so much for a backup.
DT Josh Tupou
Odds are the Bengals improve defensive line depth both in free agency and the draft. That could make saving roughly $1.4 million on Tupou’s contract a move they decide to make. It’s not a ton, but could offset the onboarding of the draft class a bit.
S Brandon Wilson
Similar story with Wilson. He represents $2 million in savings and continues to get pushed out of the picture in a defensive backfield that will be adding more names, likely in both free agency and the draft.
Fact is, Mixon has been gradually phased out of the offense for Samaje Perine in large part due to his continued struggles as a pass-blocker. Any team coughing up a $12.8 million cap hit (top three on the team next year) on a rotational running back in 2023 is probably making a mistake. Mixon only averaged 3.9 yards per carry with seven scores and caught a career-high 60 passes when he was on the field, but today’s NFL requires backs to do it all well.
The Bengals could always seek to restructure Mixon’s contract rather than outright cut him (speaking strictly of on-field reasons here). But when the draft provides chances to get well-rounded and productive backs in all seven rounds, the only thing that might lead to a restructure is his value and leadership to the locker room. Freeing up $10 million on a post-June 1 cut could account for an entire big-name splash in free agency, or multiple quality guys at places like offensive line depth.
Don’t totally count out the idea the Bengals get super aggressive and restructure a few different guys to position themselves as nicely as possible for future extensions.
Look at Tyler Boyd, whose $10 million cap charge next year is the seventh-highest on the team. He’s already the odd man out down the road if the Bengals pay up big to keep both Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins.
Both DJ Reader and Trey Hendrickson will account for roughly $15 million each next year. Other top-10 hits like La’el Collins could also be offered restructures instead, too.
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