One of the top cornerbacks on the UFA market won’t end up spending much time there. The Bengals agreed to a deal to retain sixth-year corner Dre Kirkpatrick, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The contract is for five years and nearly $52.5MM, reports Paul Dehner Jr. of The Cincinnati Enquirer (via Twitter).
This comes after the Bengals put together “strong money” in an offer to hold off the Steelers for Kirkpatrick. The former first-round pick drew interest from the Steelers and Titans but will stay in Cincinnati. The Bengals eased the former Alabama product into a role, developing him as an off-the-bench presence until inserting Kirkpatrick into the lineup in 2015. He’s been a full-time starter for the past two seasons and has nine career interceptions, three of the thefts coming last year.
This should help set the cornerback market, coming after Stephon Gilmore‘s agreement to join the Patriots. Several corners remain on the market, but the top targets are beginning to go. A.J. Bouye has just agreed to join the Jaguars, leaving players like Logan Ryan, Prince Amukamara and Morris Claiborne as the top outside cover men left.
The Kirkpatrick deal could become even more critical to the immediate future of the Bengals’ secondary depending on what happens with Adam Jones. His latest arrest has cast some doubt on another season in Cincinnati despite the Bengals re-signing Jones last year in free agency.
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