Bengals Unlikely To Re-Sign CB Chidobe Awuzie?

Bengals cornerback Chidobe Awuzie is in the final year of the three-year, $21.75MM contract he signed in March 2021. According to Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic (subscription required), Awuzie is unlikely to be back in Cincinnati in 2024.

Dehner’s expanisve piece, which details Awuzie’s journey from his early success with the Bengals through his recovery from his 2022 ACL tear and to last week’s struggles in a loss to the Steelers, notes that Awuzie still views himself as a starting corner. Cincinnati, however, will want to move forward with recent draftees Cam Taylor-Britt and DJ Turner as its starting CBs on the boundaries, and the clear implication is that, unless Awuzie is unable to find a starter’s contract on the open market, he will be moving on.

Of course, there is a good chance that Awuzie’s market will not develop as he would like. He built on a stellar 2021 with a strong start to the 2022 campaign, but the ACL tear he suffered in Week 8 of that season derailed his career. The Bengals deployed something of a rotation with Awuzie and the rookie Turner to start the current season, and between that rotation and an early-season back injury, he was unable to get into much of a rhythm. He also conceded that he had not yet recaptured the speed that is such a key element of his game.

He did appear to be rounding into form from Weeks 11 to 15. Due to an injury to Taylor-Britt, Awuzie returned to a full-time role and yielded a modest 73.6 passer rating during that time. Then, in the Week 16 loss to Pittsburgh, he struggled mightily against wideout George Pickens, which negated that string of strong performances to some degree.

As such, the final two games of the regular season and, if the Bengals should qualify for the playoffs, any postseason contests will go a long way towards determining Awuzie’s next home, as well as the nature of his next contract. Should he play well, it would easy enough for interested clubs to point to his strong start to his Cincinnati tenure and the fact that he showed flashes in his first year following an ACL tear to justify a lucrative, multiyear deal. If he should struggle, then he may need to settle for a one-year, prove-it contract, which could theoretically increase the chances of a Bengals re-up.

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