Trey Hendrickson was not entering a contract year, but the Bengals will push the defensive end’s current agreement into an additional season anyway. The team announced Hendrickson’s deal, via a one-year add-on, now runs through 2025.
The former Saints draftee signed a four-year, $60MM deal in 2021 and has become an impact player for the Bengals. This agreement will likely provide more guaranteed money for Hendrickson, and it stands to create some cap space for Cincinnati this year. The deal will indeed raise Hendrickson’s 2023 payout, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets. ESPN’s Field Yates tweets that Hendrickson will earn $21MM in new money, including a $5MM raise this year and a $16MM payout in 2025 (2024 remains unchanged).
Hendrickson’s initial Cincy contract includes a $15.5MM 2023 cap number and a $17.5MM 2024 cap hit. Conversations about a new deal took place last year, per The Athletic’s Paul Dehner Jr., and an unexpected resolution emerged. With Jalen Hurts, Lamar Jackson and Justin Herbert having signed, the final QB extension domino resides in Cincinnati.
Joe Burrow and the Bengals have been in talks for months on an extension that almost definitely will make the former No. 1 overall pick the NFL’s highest-paid player. The Bengals also have Tee Higgins and Logan Wilson going into contract years. This Hendrickson agreement should help on these fronts.
Hurts, Jackson and Herbert each raised the AAV bar this offseason, with the Chargers quarterback setting it at $52.5MM on his Tuesday extension. It will be interesting if Burrow aims to create a bit of a gap between himself and the field, seeing as he has quarterbacked the Bengals to back-to-back AFC championship games — a franchise first — and changed the trajectory of a previously downtrodden team. Mike Brown has mentioned the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes model as a potential target, but no QB extension since has followed that path. Mahomes signed a 10-year, $450MM Kansas City extension in 2020, but only one passer since — Josh Allen — has even committed to six years.
As for Hendrickson, he has shown his Saints contract year was no fluke. After not producing much during his first three seasons, the former third-round pick totaled 13.5 sacks in 2020. He collected 14.5 sacks in his Bengals debut, adding 3.5 more during the team’s run to Super Bowl LVI. Last season, Hendrickson finished with eight sacks and 24 QB hits.
Although this agreement will increase Hendrickson’s 2023 earnings, it is interesting Florida Atlantic alum would sign off on pushing a $15MM-per-year contract beyond its previous endpoint. The edge rusher market will continue to rise, especially after Nick Bosa‘s upcoming extension, and Hendrickson could have increased his leverage by entering a contract year in 2024. A 2025 free agency trip could have certainly been lucrative, assuming Cincinnati’s top pass rusher keeps up his current pace. Hendrickson is now tied to the Bengals through his age-31 season.
Then again, Hendrickson was tied to a nonguaranteed 2024 payment and would have turned 30 before a potential free agency bid anyway. Now, the productive pass rusher — whose 2021 deal included just $16MM fully guaranteed — will pick up more cash while still in his prime.