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Bengals Offseason: Will Cincinnati Add Key Pieces in Free Agency?

The Bengals have some big decisions to make this offseason

CINCINNATI — The Bengals have plenty of decisions to make this offseason. Key players like cornerback William Jackson III and defensive end Carl Lawson are both expected to hit free agency. 

Offensive line play is arguably their biggest weakness and adding proven players would be the best way to fix it. 

Pro Football Focus made their predictions for the top 100 2021 free agent class. They have the Bengals retaining key pieces and adding a former NFL MVP, but they don't sign one of the top offensive linemen. 

The believe Cincinnati will re-sign both Jackson and Lawson to long-term contracts. 

PFF has Jackson signing a three-year, $40 million deal with $22.5 million total guaranteed.

That contract would be similar to the three-year, $42 million deal Trae Waynes signed with the Bengals last offseason. 

Lawson is a tougher evaluation because he was clearly the heart and soul of the Bengals' pass rush in 2020, despite finishing with just 5.5 sacks. They believe Cincinnati will sign him to a four-year, $55 million deal with $30 million guaranteed. 

Keeping Jackson and Lawson would be big for a defense that should improve next season, assuming DJ Reader and Waynes return at full strength. 

The Bengals weren't done there. Pro Football Focus expects them to make multiple additions on offense, even if it isn't at the position most would expect.

Cincinnati signs former NFL MVP Cam Newton to a fully guaranteed one-year, $5 million contract. 

Adding Newton on the cheap wouldn't be the worst idea, especially with the Bengals expecting to win games in 2021. 

Joe Burrow is a star, but there's no reason to rush him back. Even if he is able to play in Week 1, which he thinks is a realistic goal, it doesn't hurt to have a quality backup quarterback. 

The Bengals could do much worse than Newton, who flashed at times in 2020 despite playing with one of the NFL's worse wide receiving corps. 

PFF also has Cincinnati signing Rams tight end Gerald Everett. 

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He caught 41 passes for 417 yards last season and one touchdown. Zac Taylor worked with him during his two seasons with the Rams.

Everett would give the Bengals a competent trio at tight end room with Drew Sample and C.J. Uzomah also in the mix. Bringing in Everett would take pressure off of Uzomah, who's recovering from a torn Achilles. 

Nickel cornerback Mackensie Alexander leaves in free agency according to the projection. He signs a two-year, $6 million deal with Chicago. 

Not adding a proven offensive lineman would put the pressure on the Bengals to land Penei Sewell and other top linemen in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Read Pro Football Focus' entire breakdown of the top 2021 free agents here.

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