NFL Offseason Outlook: Bengals Hopeful Burrow Can Return To Form, Determine What FA's To Bring Back

Twenty-eight free agents and the sixth-most cap space in the entire NFL, that's the story of the Cincinnati Bengals as the 2021 offseason begins in earnest next month.

Cincinnati was the only team in the AFC North NOT to make the postseason, and many think that their season was derailed once super rookie Joe Burrow went down in late November, forcing him to miss the last month of what had been a very good rookie campaign.

Burrow tore his left ACL and MCL and suffered partial tears to his PCL and meniscus. While Burrow has said he's feeling good about a full recovery, until he takes the field and takes a hit for the first time, Bengals fans will continue to hold their collective breath.

The team ended 2020 with a mark of 4-11-1, losing six games by seven points or less.

As the team looks at the free agents on their roster, they should focus on keeping impactful players and building a bigger and better offensive line that can protect Burrow.

Here's a list of free agents currently on Cincinnati's roster. The team has about a month before they can start to sign players.

QB Brandon Allen, 29
TE Cethan Carter, 28
WR Alex Erickson, 29
WR A.J. Green, 33
RB Samaje Perine, 26
G Alex Redmond, 26
WR John Ross, 27
WR Mike Thomas, 27
TE Mitchell Wilcox, 25
CB Mackensie Alexander, 28
DE Amani Bledsoe, 23
CB Tony Brown, 25
K Randy Bullock, 32
LB Josh Bynes, 32
DT Christian Covington, 28
DT Mike Daniels, 32
CB Jalen Davis, 25
LB Jordan Evans, 26
TE/LS Clark Harris, 37
P Kevin Huber, 36
DE Margus Hunt, 34
CB William Jackson, 29
DE Carl Lawson, 26
DT Kahlil McKenzie, 24
CB LeShaun Sims, 28
S Shawn Williams, 30
DT Xavier Williams, 29
S Brandon Wilson, 27

That's a lot of players and a lot of tough decisions for the franchise. They discussed moving on from head coach Zac Taylor, but ultimately decided to stick with him and bring him back for a third season.

Offseason Outlook: The biggest free agents on the roster include CB Mackensie Alexander, linebacker Josh Bynes, wide out A.J. Green, defensive end Carl Lawson and receiver John Ross.

The Bengals have a decent amount of cap space and would love to bring back at least a couple of those guys.

The team has work to do to bring back running back Joe Mixon, but the club would like to lock him up long term. The 24-year-old Mixon had a tough 2020. He was able to play in only six games due to injury. In 2019, however, he ran for 1157 yards and five scores in 16 games. Mixon is a game changer who is due a new contract and a hefty raise by the start of the 2021 season.

Keep an eye on safety Jessie Bates III, who is just 23 years old and could make a huge splash in free agency. The question is - will he make that splash in Cincinnati?

With just six wins in two seasons as head coach, Taylor feels the pressure to start winning more games, especially against division rivals. They went just 1-5 in the AFC North in 2020.

Expect to see a very active offseason for the Bengals as they look to build a foundation that can help them challenge the Steelers, Browns and Ravens in the near future.

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Matt has been a part of the Cleveland Sports landscape working in the media since 1994 when he graduated from broadcasting school. His coverage beats include the Cleveland Indians, Cleveland Browns and Cleveland Cavaliers. He's written three books, and won the "2020 AP Sports Stringer Lifetime Service Award."