Houston Texans defensive tackle DJ Reader

The Cincinnati Bengals pounce into Free Agency with multiple signings

  • 2020 Free Agency
  • Cincinnati Bengals
  • D.J. Reader
  • Free Agency
  • Trae Waynes
By Kyle Smith March 18, 2020 0 Comment
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The Cincinnati Bengals broke historic patterns yesterday and spent money on big-name players in free agency for the first time.

Since the Super Bowl, the media, both local and national, has been hinting at the Cincinnati Bengals being more active in free agency than usual. Yesterday, Cory Littleton and Joe Schobert, two fan favorites for the Bengals to sign, were signed to the Las Vegas Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars, respectively. It looked as if everyone was duped, and Bengals’ fans lost the small hope they had left in their team.

D.J. Reader breaks the bank

Insert a  6’3″, 347lb monster of a defensive tackle in D.J. Reader. Reader, a 5th round pick from Clemson in 2016, has handled the middle for the Texans. The Bengals shocked the world when they signed him to a four year, $53 million deal to make Reader the highest-paid defensive tackle in the NFL and the most expensive free agent in Bengals’ history. Pro Football Focus ranked Reader as the 4th highest graded defensive tackle last season. In 2019, Reader posted 28 solo tackles and 2.5 sacks, but his real value will not show on the stat sheets. Watch the tape, and you’ll see Reader plugging up the middle, standing up one of the best guards in the league in Quenton Nelson, and wreaking havoc on quarterbacks in the pocket.

Reader can put his hand in the dirt next to Geno Atkins and also play nose tackle when the Bengals show a 3-4 front. Cincinnati’s defensive front was missing an inside presence when Atkins left the field, but this bank-breaking signing solidifies a dominant line of scrimmage.

Trae Waynes Cashes In

Cincinnati was not done yet. The Bengals dropped $42 million to sign Trae Waynes, a cornerback from Minnesota, to a three-year deal. Waynes ranked as Pro Football Focus‘s 4th highest free agent corner. Last season, he recorded 56 solo tackles, one interception, and allowed 61 receptions on 84 targets. Over his career, Waynes has allowed a 62.6% completion percentage when targeted, 17 touchdowns, and intercepted eight passes. Waynes is strictly a boundary corner, which could signify the end of the line for cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick. By cutting Kirkpatrick, the Bengals could save $8.4 million. How Cincinnati uses their current cornerback roster will be interesting to watch next season.

Not Done Yet

The Bengals have already released Cordy Glenn, freeing up $9.5 million in cap space. On Wednesday, Cincinnati terminated the contract of both cornerback B.W. Webb and offensive guard John Miller. Combined, the two created $6.1 million in cap space to help make room for yesterday’s signing. Webb and Miller signed with Cincinnati in 2019, but both are gone after just one season in stripes.

Cincinnati is not entirely done either. Beat writers in Cincinnati continue to hear that the Bengals will make moves to fill out their roster for the upcoming season. With the future release or trade of Andy Dalton and the likely cap casualty of Dre Kirkpatrick, there could be another $25 million to be spent leading up to the NFL Draft. Players like Jadeveon Clowney, Logan Ryan, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Chris Harris Jr., Joe Haeg, Vonn Bell, and many others are still available to give the Bengals plenty of options to upgrade this free agency. Zac Taylor and the Cincinnati Bengals are forging a new path and giving fans signs of life they have been begging to see.

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