Cincinnati Bengals Should Prioritize Vonn Bell Extension Before Training Camp

Cincinnati Bengals Should Prioritize Vonn Bell Extension Before Training Camp

Willie Lutz
2 years ago
2 min read
Bengals safety Vonn Bell against the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LVI

When looking at the Cincinnati Bengals rebuild, their acquisition of Vonn Bell remains amongst the most important moves amongst the bunch. Now, heading into the 2022 campaign, Bell is already on the final year of his initial three-year, $18 million deal. While paying a 27-year-old safety his third contract could be viewed as a risk, Bell fits the resume of an ideal extension candidate. 

Sure, a pre-camp extension might not seem like the most pressing issue at hand. However, with $15.8 million left in cap space, the 11th-most in the league, there’s room for the team to get a pending free agent or two secured for future years. 

Appearing in 35 of 36 opportunities with the Bengals, Bell has only missed a meaningless Week 18 game against the Cleveland Browns/ Bell’s availability continues to provide crucial stability to the team’s secondary. 

Bell’s on-the-field impact is palpable and shows up on the stat sheet. He’s finished in top two in tackles on the Bengals in each of the past two seasons. Further, per Pro Football Focus, he ranked fourth among all NFL safeties in defensive stops with 34 in 2021.

Still, that doesn’t even account for the leadership and hard-nosed impact Bell brings to the Bengals defense. A defensive captain on the 2021 team, Bell is considered a key leader of the entire unit.

It’s been an interesting offseason for the Bengals’ safety position. While they targeted two future fits for the position, their veteran group is perhaps the best in the league. Over the past two seasons, it’s been impossible to ignore the impacts of SS Vonn Bell and FS Jessie Bates III.

Notably, both are set to become unrestricted free agents following the 2022 season. However, the negotiations with the rising star Bates and the Bengals have soured. As of now, it looks like Bates will play on a franchise tag and set his sights on free agency in 2023.

Despite the team drafting first-rounder Daxton Hill and fifth-rounder Tycen Anderson in the 2022 Draft, losing a pair of captains with Bates and Bell holding UDFA status following the season comes with more sting.

Undoubtably, Bell’s deal will be the easier one to tabulate than Bates; that’s the nature of being an aging pro heading for a third contract. Seemingly, the Bengals can offer Bell similar money to his current contract, add two-to-three years, and get their strong safety on the books for a few more seasons.

Under its current structure, the Bengals rely heavily on leaders like Bell to set the tone for their roster. Keeping him in house extends the attitude and effort provided by the six-year veteran. Further, investing in Bell shows Cincinnati’s commitment to paying their own and building from within their building, even if it’s someone with a little more grey in his beard.

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