Cincinnati Bengals’ 53-man roster projection after preseason finale

Credit: Cincinnati Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals wrapped up their 2021 preseason with a 29-26 loss to the Miami Dolphins. But, the biggest winners were the players who earned their way onto the 53-man regular season roster. The Bengals have until Tuesday August 31 at 4pm to make all the necessary cuts. Currently, they are sitting at 80. So, 27 players are either going to need to be released, sent to injured reserve, or waived with the intention to return later on the practice squad. Based on what we’ve seen since OTAs began, this is what I’m expecting the first depth chart of the 2021 regular season to look like.

Projected roster

LWRJa’Marr ChaseAuden Tate
RWRTee HigginsTrenton Irwin
SWRTyler BoydMike Thomas
LTJonah WilliamsFred Johnson
LGQuinton SpainMichael JordanHakeem Adeniji
CTrey HopkinsTrey Hill
RGXavier Su’a-FiloJackson Carman
RTRiley ReiffD’Ante Smith
TECJ UzomahDrew SampleThaddeus Moss
QBJoe BurrowBrandon Allen
RBJoe MixonChris EvansJacques Patrick
LDESam HubbardKhalid KareemBJ Hill
NTDJ ReaderTyler Shelvin
RDTLarry OgunjobiMike Daniels
RDETrey HendricksonCam Sample
LBLogan WilsonJordan Evans
LBGermaine PrattMarkus Bailey
LBAkeem Davis-GaitherDarius Hodge
CBTrae WaynesEli Apple
SSVonn BellRicardo Allen
FSJessie Bates IIIBrandon Wilson
CBChidobe AwuzieJalen Davis
NBMike HiltonDarius Phillips
PTKevin Huber
PKEvan McPherson
LSClark Harris
HKevin Huber
KOEvan McPherson
PRDarius PhillipsBrandon Wilson
KRDarius PhillipsBrandon Wilson

To be clear; Hakeem Adeniji is currently recovering from a torn pectoral and is likely headed to short-term IR. The Bengals have to put him on the original 53-man roster to transfer him to that list. Most likely, based on these projections, that player is going to be LB Joe Bachie. Bachie capped off a good camp and preseason with 4 tackles and a pass deflection. I’m guessing he beat out DE Noah Spence for the 53rd roster spot, because Spence looked shaky at best and sloppy at worst in his only preseason action with the Bengals.

The inclusion of WR Trenton Irwin on the final roster is likely to raise a few eyebrows. An undrafted third-year receiver out of Stanford, he has had virtually no impact in the NFL before this year. Most expected him to wash out with the rest of the fringe wide receivers this offseason. But, save for one lackluster preseason Week 2 performance in Washington, he has been proving he belongs both in training camp and preseason.

Against the Dolphins in Week 3, he caught two passes for 39 yards. One of those two catches was an incredible 16-yard reception he held on to despite being immediately blown up by the defender. Similarly, his primary competition for the final WR spot, veteran Trent Taylor, also had a highlight-reel level play against the Dolphins.

Unfortunately for Taylor, that’s about all he’s done in preseason so far. There was talk about him taking over the return duties vacated by Alex Erickson, but that role appears filled by Darius Phillips. Furthermore, he had one opportunity to show us what he had in that area this week and he ended up losing a yard on the play. You could make the argument Taylor might deserve a spot on the roster over Mike Thomas. But, Thomas has also flashed in the preseason and he seems to be well liked by the Bengals’ coaching staff. So, I would imagine Thomas ends up sticking around.

Since originally finishing this article, the Bengals announced they are trading C Billy Price, who I projected to make the roster, to the New York Giants for DE BJ Hill. Hill was a 3rd round draft pick in Price’s 2018 class who got out to a good start in his rookie year (12 starts, 5.5 sacks), and then never was counted on as a starter again afterwards. It makes you wonder what issue the Giants’ coaching staff had with him, but you can imagine he’s probably being brought in as depth with all the current injuries to edge players.

Waives, Cuts, Injuries, and Practice Squad

Waive (Or Trade)IRRegular Practice SquadVeteran Practice Squad
QB Kyle ShurmurDE Wyatt HubertLB Joe Bachie*WR Trent Taylor
RB Trayveon WilliamsDE Joseph OssaiOG Isaiah PrinceRB Samaje Perine
WR Scotty WashingtonRB Jacques PatrickTE Mason Schreck
OT Gunnar VogelTE Mitchell WilcoxCB Tony Brown
OG Keaton SutherlandRB Pooka Williams, JrS Trayvon Henderson
DT Kahlil McKenzieWR Stanley Morgan, JrDT Josh Tupou
LB Keandre JonesDT Renell Wren
CB Winston RoseDE Amani Bledsoe
CB Antonio PhillipsP Drue Chrisman
K Austin Seibert
DE Noah Spence

Back in July, the NFL confirmed they will be carrying over expanded practice squad rules from 2020 into 2021. That means teams will be allowed to carry sixteen players on the practice squad, six of whom may be veterans with more than two accrued seasons. That’s good news for guys like Trent Taylor and Samaje Perine. Both players have flashed talent throughout their careers. But, from where I’m standing, they didn’t do enough to hold off players like Trenton Irwin and Jacques Patrick.

It’s also good news for Mason Schreck, who joined the Bengals as an undrafted free agent in 2017. Since then, he has stayed with the Bengals in some capacity, whether it be on the roster or the practice squad. As I’m expecting Thaddeus Moss to make the final TE spot given his preseason production and his relationship with Joe Burrow, practice squad makes the most sense for Schreck.

The Bengals are going to need to initially waive a player from their 53-man roster so they can move OL Hakeem Adeniji to short-term IR. The hope is whoever they waive won’t be picked up by another team so they can sign the player back to the roster after the paperwork is completed. I’m guessing that player is going to be Joe Bachie. The Bengals claimed him off waivers back in May, so there is a possibility they waive someone else for fear he could get poached. But, to me, he seems most likely to clear waivers.

The time for evaluations is over. We’ve seen everything the players on the extended roster have to offer. On Tuesday, the bill comes due. There will be some tough decisions to make whether it be cuts or places on the roster. Some of those decisions, fans may disagree with. I’m sure we’ll hear all about them when that happens. But, to me, these make the most sense.

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