Bengals ‘Team Fit’ Could Oust $30 Million Cut Candidate

Ravens' Justin Madubuike called "team fit" to replace Bengals' B.J. Hill.

Getty Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle B.J. Hill was called a "potential cap casualty" in 2024.

Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle B.J. Hill has been highlighted as a “potential cap casualty” or “cut candidate” by both ESPN NFL insider Jeremy Fowler and uSTADIUM co-founder Nick Spano.

The reason? The Bengals can save $7.5 million by parting ways with the $30 million veteran contract according to Over the Cap, plus there may be an upgrade that emerges in NFL free agency.

For example, ESPN staff writer Matt Bowen pegged Cincinnati as the “best team fit” for Baltimore Ravens breakout defensive tackle Justin Madubuike on February 20.

“Look for the Ravens to make a strong play to retain Madubuike, who had a career-high 13 sacks in 2023,” Bowen began. “But I also like him in Cincinnati for a defense that needs to add more speed and playmaking ability to its front seven.”

“The Bengals allowed a league-worst 6.0 yards per play last season,” the ESPN analyst added. “Madubuike has the foot quickness and first-step juice to leverage blockers and make an impact on the pocket.”

Should they reach the open market, Miami Dolphins’ Christian Wilkins, Seattle Seahawks’ Leonard Williams and even Kansas City Chiefs superstar Chris Jones all profile as possible Hill replacements as well.

Bengals’ B.J. Hill Might Have Limited Ceiling Compared to Free Agent Alternatives

Hill has been consistent for the Bengals since coming over from the New York Giants via trade. The interior defensive lineman has appeared in at least 16 games in each of his three campaigns in Cincy, and his sack total has ranged from 3.0 to 5.5 each year.

Having said that, there might be a limited ceiling when it comes to the former third-round selection.

As a pass rusher, Hill as never surpassed career highs of 5.5 sacks and 45 quarterback pressures in a single season. In 2023, he registered 42 pressures and 4.5 sacks.

Not bad, but not on the level of Madubuike, Wilkins or Jones.

Hill was also average in run defense compared to other defensive tackles around the league. His average depth of tackle on rushing attempts (2.3 yards allowed per tackle) ranked tied for 36th in the NFL at the position according to Pro Football Focus (minimum 50% of snaps played). Similarly, Hill’s 6.8% stop percentage ranked tied for 42nd.

Considering the Bengals finally have some money to play around with in 2024, upgrading a player like Hill could be wise as the franchise attempts to find their way back to a Super Bowl. Of course, with D.J. Reader and Josh Tupou set to hit free agency at the position, Cincinnati could also look to keep Hill and pair him with a new partner in crime up the gut.

Bengals Reporter Urges Team to ‘Make a Splash’ for Chiefs Free Agent Chris Jones

The aforementioned Jones may not hit the open market, but USA Today Bengals Wire reporter Chris Roling urged Cincy to make a push for the game-wrecker if he does.

“If the Bengals want to make a splash outside of retaining their own like Tee Higgins and Jonah Williams, Jones might make the most sense,” Roling began.

“The non-Trey Hendrickson parts of the defensive line struggled as the season continued and exposed a rebuilt, young secondary,” the writer reasoned. “Even worse, star interior defender DJ Reader, besides himself being a free agent, went down with the second torn quad of his career and is on an unknown recovery timetable.”

All of this led Roling to conclude that “the Bengals know better than most what a game-altering player Jones can be, so regardless of the steep price and fact he’s going on 30 years old, he should rank near the top of their outside free agents list.”

Reinforcing: “The ability to line him up at multiple spots on the same front as Hendrickson, Sam Hubbard, first-rounder Myles Murphy and potentially others would be a win-now move for a team trying to keep the contention window as wide as possible before Joe Burrow’s extension cap hit escalates in 2025.”

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