When the coin toss is completed on Sunday, February 13, the pressure is on more than ever. The Super Bowl, the game that players dream of, is the biggest game in all of sports. For the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals, it is their time to stand under the lights and have millions watching them take center stage in LA.
Super Bowl 56 will feature a ton of star talent. Odell Beckham Jr., Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, Joe Burrow, Aaron Donald, Ja’Marr Chase, and Jalen Ramsey are just a few names involved in this massive game.
For some players, this is their last opportunity to show out before free agency hits and for some, this game could make a difference of millions of dollars when March rolls around.
Everybody knows Beckham is hitting the open market and should command a lot of money, but here are a few other upcoming free agents who are out to show their worth at Super Bowl 26.
Rams WR Odell Beckham Jr.
Let’s get this one out of the way. Beckham came over at midseason after being released from the Cleveland Browns. Then, Robert Woods got injured, and suddenly the signing of Beckham became much more important.
The Rams’ chances of re-signing Beckham look slim, especially with their cap situation. So, he should be playing somewhere else in 2022, barring some unforeseen financial maneuvering by LA.
Since coming to California, he has responded in a massive way and has seen his career turn around in just a few months with Stafford throwing him passes. Beckham doesn’t have much more to prove in the Super Bowl — he has already established himself in less than a full season with the Rams.
Bengals FS Jessie Bates
The Bengals and Jessie Bates have gone back and forth all season long to try and get an extension done. But, the Bengals have refused to give him the money he wants for some reason.
Now, they can place the franchise tag on him, which seems likely. Nonetheless, Bates will be one of the top at his position if he does hit the open market.
NFL teams and GMs might not be aware of how good Bates is, and a stellar performance at Super Bowl 56 should make the decision easier for the Bengals to either tag him or extend him once and for all.
Rams RB Sony Michel
The Rams traded for Sony Michel at the beginning of the season after Cam Akers went down with a torn Achilles. Somehow, Akers made his way back with a miraculous recovery in time for the playoffs.
Michel split time with Darrell Henderson in Akers’ absence before taking over the job altogether. The Rams will most likely let Michel walk in the offseason — especially with cap issues and other areas to fill. If Michel can put together an excellent performance against the Bengals, he should be rewarded with a pretty nice payday once free agency begins.
He played 17 games for the Rams in the regular season and finished with 845 yards and four scores on 208 carries, leading the team in both yards and carries. He can still play, and the only reason the Patriots moved on is because of Damien Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson, James White, and Brandon Bolden.
Michel could very well get a James Conner-type contract and role next season on a prove-it deal, especially if he plays well against Cincinnati in the Super Bowl in LA.
Bengals DE B.J. Hill
Remember when the New York Giants and Bengals traded way back when? Billy Price went to the Giants and Hill came to Cincinnati in what looked to be a very odd trade that nobody paid attention to. Now, Hill is preparing for the Super Bowl.
Hill played in 16 games during the regular season and posted 5.5 sacks, most since his rookie year when he had the same amount. In the playoffs, he had 1.5 sacks and a nifty interception against the Kansas City Chiefs.
The trade the Bengals made for Hill looks like a steal, and the former NC State star should have a lot of teams calling for his services — although he mentioned he wants to be in Cincinnati for “a long time.” An impressive performance in the Super Bowl will only help his cause as he heads for free agency.
Stats Courtesy of Pro Football Reference
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