The 2023 NFL offseason is officially up and running. Many free agents already signed their new deals with their teams, painting a picture of what the league will look like this year. Contending organizations such as the Cincinnati Bengals should remain active with hopes of taking the next step.

Following a Super Bowl appearance, Cincinnati had a poor 4-4 start to the 2022 season. However, the team turned things around by winning its last eight games in the regular season. The Bengals finished 12-4, clinching the AFC North and the No. 3 seed in the conference.

The Bengals would eventually not return to the Super Bowl, falling short to the Kansas City Chiefs, 23-20, in the AFC Championship Game. Still, with a young core led by Ja’Marr Chase and MVP finalist Joe Burrow, the future looks bright in Cincinnati.

So far in the offseason, Cincinnati has already lost Jessie Bates III and Vonn Bell. While both players could create big holes, the front office also made sure to bring big-name free agents. With that being said, here is the Cincinnati Bengals’ sneakiest signing in the 2023 NFL Free Agency.

Bengals’ sneakiest 2023 NFL free agency signing: OT Orlando Brown Jr.

If there was an area that Cincinnati had to address after its trip to the Super Bowl, it was its offensive line. Throughout 2021, Burrow led the league in suffered sacks with 51 and 370 lost yards in the regular season. In the postseason, he was sacked 19 times for a loss of 137 yards, both NFL records.

In 2022, the front office addressed the issue by signing Alex Cappa, Ted Karras and La’el Collins. While things did improve, it showed there is still some work to do. Cincinnati allowed 44 sacks, placing the team in the bottom 15 in the league. In three postseason games this year, opponents sacked Burrow 10 times for a loss of 60 yards.

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With so many recent problems with pass protection, the front office ended up going after perhaps the top offensive lineman available in the 2023 free agency. The team signed offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr. to a four-year, $64.09 million contract.

A former starter for the Kansas City Chiefs, Brown is coming off his fourth Pro Bowl selection, earning back-to-back nods in his first two years with the team. Following a slow start to the season by Kansas City, Brown helped the team bounce back. From Week 10 to the end of the regular season, his 88.7 pass-blocking grade was the third-best among left tackles, according to Pro Football Focus.

Thanks to his contributions, the Chiefs managed to win 10 of its last 11 games in the regular season. Most importantly, they won their second Super Bowl in the last four years. Despite his big role in protecting MVP Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City could not match Cincinnati's offer. Because of that, the Bengals landed one of the top free agents of the 2023 offseason.

This move addresses one of the biggest issues the team has had in the Burrow era. With Brown in the protection, there is a big chance the number of sacks decreases. That way, the Bengals can have better passing and preserve Burrow's body for the future.

Most importantly, Cincinnati brought in a key player to one of its biggest rivals. The Bengals improved their roster while hurting the Chiefs at the same time.

All things considered, signing Orlando Brown Jr. was likely the best move by the Bengals in the 2023 free agency. Even if it was to a large contract, it makes Cincinnati better and significantly hurts Kansas City.