Tight end C.J. Uzomah and the Cincinnati Bengals shocked the world in 2021, making the Super Bowl in quarterback Joe Burrow’s second season. As hard as that surely was, the franchise now faces the even more daunting task of getting back to the Big Game.
Retaining key players like Uzomah has to be a top priority for the Bengals this offseason. However, if the 2015 fifth-round draft pick out of Auburn does leave, there are plenty of teams that would love to enlist the pass-catcher’s services.
Here are the three best destinations for Bengals TE C.J. Uzomah.
C.J. Uzomah can return to the Cincinnati Bengals
The good news for Cincinnati Bengals fans who’ve also become C.J. Uzomah fans in the last five years is that there’s still a good chance the TE can end up back in the Queen City next year. Uzomah had his best year in his first full season with Joe Burrow. His 49 catches, 493 yards, and five touchdowns were all career highs.
Cincinnati is in a good position going into the 2022 offseason as well. The team has an estimated $48 million in cap room, the fourth-most in the entire league. That gives owner Mike Brown the flexibility to do a lot heading into next season.
That said, the decision to move on could come from either side. Brown is notoriously frugal, so with young TEs Drew Sample and Thaddeus Moss on the roster, the owner may not want to pay Uzomah the market rate. Conversely, coming off a Super Bowl appearance, the Bengals may entice a more explosive player at the position to come to Ohio.
On the player’s side, Uzomah had a great year, but with Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Joe Mixon still on the roster, there likely won’t be much of an opportunity for Uzomah’s role to grow. If he wants the ball more, he will have to leave Cincy.
If that happens, here are the three best landing spots.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tom Brady is gone, which likely means his best bud Rob Gronkowski is too. For whomever the new QB is, the team needs to replace 55 catches for 802 yards and six TDs. With Antonio Brown out and Chris Godwin recovering from a knee injury, if C.J. Uzomah signed with the Buccaneers, he would be a primary target, especially early in the season.
While Brady is gone, it seems like head coach Bruce Arians and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich will be back. That’s good news for the offense. If the team signs a good free agent QB like Teddy Bridgewater or Jameis Winston, that could be very good. If the franchise really swings for the fences in a trade for a signal-caller like Russell Wilson or Aaron Rodgers, that could be incredible (and something Uzomah might want to be a part of).
2. Indianapolis Colts
The Indianapolis Colts are another team with a ton of cap room this offseason ($37 million) and are in need of a tight end. The team might lose both TEs from this season’s roster with Mo-Alie Cox, a free agent, and Jack Doyle mulling retirement.
Uzomah would be a nice replacement for the Colts as a versatile tight end who could develop a pass-catching rapport with Carson Wentz and do a solid job blocking for Jonathan Taylor. In addition to the talent on the field, playing for head coach Frank Reich might appeal to Uzomah, too. When the coach was the OC in Philly, he helped turn TE Zach Ertz into a star.
1. New York Jets
C.J. Uzomah made it to the Super Bowl by being a security blanket for a second-year QB. If he wants to do that again (and get the bag from a team with $44 million in cap space), he could team up with Zach Wilson and the New York Jets.
Wide receivers Elijah Moore, Jamison Crowder, and Braxton Barrios, along with tight ends Tyler Kroft and Ryan Griffin, all had decent years, but none became Wilson’s no-doubt go-to guy in 2021. Uzomah could make himself into that as the Jets have plenty of targets (and money) to go around in 2022. Head coach Robert Salah has already expressed his desire for Wilson to get more “boring” completions, too, which Uzomah would be perfect for.
Whether it’s his decision or his current team’s, Uzomah trying to establish the Bengals 2.0 in New York would make a lot of sense.