Bengals CB Darqueze Dennard will play out the 2018 season under the fifth-year option of his rookie deal, so he will be eligible for unrestricted free agency next offseason. After an underwhelming and injury-plagued first three years in the league, the Michigan State product turned in a strong 2017, mostly as a slot corner, and he has set himself up for a nice payday if he replicates that performance in 2018 (which would also make for a difficult business decision for Cincinnati).
As Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes, the Bengals have proven that they are willing to pay when it comes to cover corners. And Dennard believes he can not only be a good slot corner, but that he can handle opposing receivers outside the numbers as well, which he showed flashes of last season. The team has previously indicated that it would be open to extending Dennard, despite the investments it has already made in fellow corners Dre Kirkpatrick and William Jackson III, but Dennard himself is not sure if he’s ready for that conversation just yet.
He said, “That’s something that I think me and my agent and my family will have to sit down and talk about. But I mean, when that time come, the time come. I’m not pressed on it. I’ve got some goals that I have personally that I gotta work on, on the football field.”
He then suggested that he may be interested in testing the open market, as he smiled and added, “You know how defensive backs is anyway – we like to gamble. So I’m not too much sure how I feel any way about it.”
In any event, Dennard is slated to earn $8.526MM in 2018, which actually makes him the 21st-highest paid CB in the game. He will look to build on a 2017 campaign that saw him post career highs in forced fumbles (one), interceptions (two), sacks (two), passes defensed (six), solo (61) and total tackles (85).
In other Bengals news, Owczarski reports that the team has shown interest in supplemental draft prospects Sam Beal and Adonis Alexander, both of whom are cornerbacks who could theoretically replace Dennard in 2019.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.