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.
|LWR||Ja’Marr Chase||Auden Tate|
|RWR||Tee Higgins||Trenton Irwin|
|SWR||Tyler Boyd||Mike Thomas|
|LT||Jonah Williams||Fred Johnson|
|LG||Quinton Spain||Michael Jordan||Hakeem Adeniji|
|C||Trey Hopkins||Trey Hill|
|RG||Xavier Su’a-Filo||Jackson Carman|
|RT||Riley Reiff||D’Ante Smith|
|TE||CJ Uzomah||Drew Sample||Thaddeus Moss|
|QB||Joe Burrow||Brandon Allen|
|RB||Joe Mixon||Chris Evans||Jacques Patrick|
|LDE||Sam Hubbard||Khalid Kareem||BJ Hill|
|NT||DJ Reader||Tyler Shelvin|
|RDT||Larry Ogunjobi||Mike Daniels|
|RDE||Trey Hendrickson||Cam Sample|
|LB||Logan Wilson||Jordan Evans|
|LB||Germaine Pratt||Markus Bailey|
|LB||Akeem Davis-Gaither||Darius Hodge|
|CB||Trae Waynes||Eli Apple|
|SS||Vonn Bell||Ricardo Allen|
|FS||Jessie Bates III||Brandon Wilson|
|CB||Chidobe Awuzie||Jalen Davis|
|NB||Mike Hilton||Darius Phillips|
|PR||Darius Phillips||Brandon Wilson|
|KR||Darius Phillips||Brandon 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.https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
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)||IR||Regular Practice Squad||Veteran Practice Squad|
|QB Kyle Shurmur||DE Wyatt Hubert||LB Joe Bachie*||WR Trent Taylor|
|RB Trayveon Williams||DE Joseph Ossai||OG Isaiah Prince||RB Samaje Perine|
|WR Scotty Washington||RB Jacques Patrick||TE Mason Schreck|
|OT Gunnar Vogel||TE Mitchell Wilcox||CB Tony Brown|
|OG Keaton Sutherland||RB Pooka Williams, Jr||S Trayvon Henderson|
|DT Kahlil McKenzie||WR Stanley Morgan, Jr||DT Josh Tupou|
|LB Keandre Jones||DT Renell Wren|
|CB Winston Rose||DE Amani Bledsoe|
|CB Antonio Phillips||P 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.