Minutes after losing Darqueze Dennard, the Bengals will add another former first-round cornerback. They have agreed to a deal with longtime Vikings defender Trae Waynes, Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL.com report (via Twitter).
The Bengals will pay big money to land him as well, with Tom Pelissero of NFL.com reporting (via Twitter) this is a three-year, $42MM deal. The $14MM-AAV contract will pay out $20MM in Year 1 and net Waynes $31MM after the 2021 season, per Pelissero. This puts Waynes among the top-10 highest-paid cornerbacks.
Waynes was a regular starter with Minnesota over the past three seasons and joins Xavier Rhodes among Vikings corners set to play elsewhere in 2020. Waynes will join another team that has valued corners extensively. The Bengals, despite losing Dennard, still roster ex-first-rounders Dre Kirkpatrick and William Jackson.
While Waynes has topped out at an above-average level, never grading above 70.0 on Pro Football Focus’ scale in five seasons (but never grading below 63.0), this still represents significant deviation for the Bengals. They just signed D.J. Reader to an eight-figure-per-year deal. He and Waynes double as the conservative franchise’s most notable outside free agent investments in many years.
The Vikings selected Waynes in the 2015 first round and used him as a starter in 53 games. Over the past few days, the Vikings have moved on from several members of the core they spent years assembling. Rhodes, Linval Joseph and Stefon Diggs are gone. Everson Griffen is a free agent. Minnesota has done some retooling this week and will need to add reinforcements at corner with two of their primary cover men out of the picture.