Grading the Bengals Free Agent Signings

Trey Hendrickson Brings Elite Talent

The Cincinnati Bengals are looking to be the team that takes the biggest leap from the 2020 season to the 2021 year. Joe Burrow is entering his second year and third-year head coach Zac Taylor is sitting on the hottest seat in his tenure thus far. 

To rise to the winning occasion, the Bengals have to win the first phase of the offseason: free agency. As of late, the Bengals have impressed in the 2021 FA period. Despite Peter King believing the Bengals haven’t done enough in FA, the big picture looks bright for Cincy. With that being said, I’m going to hand out report cards for the marquee signings in Bengals nation.

Trey Hendrickson: A+ 

I give absolute props to the Bengals for landing Trey Hendrickson. The Bengals need a defensive monster in their pass rush to complement the high powered Bengals passing offense. Hendrickson tied Aaron Donald’s sack number (13.5), while playing 200 fewer snaps. Another bright mark for Hendrickson lies with his potential — coming to Cincy at 26 years old. The Bengals would appear to many as the team that Hendrickson shouldn’t take if he wants a Super Bowl ring, but he’s still a young asset — plus he’s a high motor player mid round draft pick defender, NO worries about Hendrickson being a bust.

Mike Hilton: B+ 

The Bengals showed that they want to revamp the defense in the NFL free agency period. AND THEY DIDN’T DISAPPOINT. 

The Bengals landed a franchise slot corner with the addition of Mike Hilton. The 27 year old recorded three INTs, three sacks (9.5 in his career), and he’s a force at a position that’s hard to find quality players. 

Riley Reiff: B-

They may have lost Kevin Zeitler and they haven’t replaced him at this point, but the Bengals got a STEAL at RT with Riley Reiff. The 32 year old will be on the Bengals for a one year – $7.5 million year deal. 

Reiff is a quality pass blocker and this was a big need, as they face the likes of T.J. Watt, Myles Garrett in the division. Expect the Bengals to obtain a guard in the second-third round of the draft, while they may make a move for Pewell at OT early on.

Chidobe Awuzie: B

The new Bengals CB has four years of experience for Dallas. Chidobe Awuzie was drafted as a second round pick and he hasn’t quite lived up to the expectations. Awuzie has four ints in four years, along with 37 pass deflections in his short career.

Awuzie is under contract until 2023 and he will be able to resurrect his career with lower expectations. The Bengals have been sharp with adding talent at CB, so this will give the 25 year old time to improve his craft without being leaned on heavily.

Larry Ogunjobi: D+

I believe the Bengals didn’t need to break the bank at OL in free agency, but I would have liked to see the Bengals bulk up at DT in free agency. The team cut ways with the long time DT Geno Atkins, but downgraded with the once Browns DL. Ogunjobi recorded a mere 2.5 sacks in 2020 and 5.5 in 2019. Adding Hendrickson is huge, but the team didn’t take that significant jump by replacing Atkins with a lesser version of himself. The Bengals will likely bring in competition in the mid rounds and a veteran DT in FA for more beef in the interior DL.

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