Rumors of the Bengals signing Stephon Gilmore are just rumors.
The reality is that the team is unlikely to spend on another big free agent, especially not the 31-year-old.
Yes, the team likes to draft corners, so it wouldn’t be surprising if they took one at the start of this year’s NFL Draft. But the Bengals, fresh off a Super Bowl appearance, could also look to cement their position with another veteran who can help a rookie transition to the NFL as the team continues to hum in win-now mode. .
So who are some of the veterans who are staying in free agency? Let’s take a look at some of Joe Goodberry’s Best Remaining Free Agents.
The former Cleveland Brown and Pittsburgh Steeler may have a thing for revenge and stay in the AFC North. If so, it would be a perfect fit for Cincinnati. Goodberry predicts he’ll make around $5 million a year on his next contract, which would be reasonable for the Bengals.
Yes, Haden is almost 33 years old. But he’s an experienced veteran who’s learned to rely on his wits over athleticism in recent years. As recently as 2019, he had a career-best five interceptions to go along with 11 pass breakups.
Haden earned overall and coverage ratings above 60 from Pro Football Focus in each of his five seasons as a Steeler. He may not be a tight corner, but he’s still a good tackler who would add valuable depth and leadership.
2. Patrick Peterson
Another aging veteran with something in the tank, the former Arizona Cardinal and Minnesota Viking earned a 63.0 overall rating from PFF and is expected to earn around $6 million a year on his next contract. At one point, Peterson was considered one of the best corners in the game, but his athleticism quickly waned and the Cardinals decided to move on. He had a bit of a revival last year and would provide the kind of stability the Bengals are looking for.
3. Chris Harris Jr.
Yes, you guessed it. Another former elite member, who is now in his early to mid-30s, achieved a PFF rating in his 60s and is expected to earn around $5 million a year. The only difference is that Harris is best suited to play in the slot machine. At one point he was arguably the best slot corner in the game, earning a 94.8 PFF rating from 2011 to 2018. Then his ratings plummeted after moving away his senior year with the Broncos from Denver and his first year with the Los Angeles Chargers.
4. Xavier Rhodes
You got me. Rhodes fits the same profile, except he’s expected to earn a bit less, around $3 million a year. In 2020, he was tied for the eighth-highest mark for a corner (77.3), according to PFF. It wasn’t as good in 2021, scoring 61.8. On the Minnesota Vikings, he was first exceptional, making three Pro Bowls and being named All-Pro twice. But his game quickly declined and he was picked up by the Indianapolis Colts. He enjoyed a brief renaissance in 2020, then struggled with a calf injury at the start of 2021, then a hamstring injury at the end of the season, missing four games as a result. It’s a bit difficult to say if he can return to his 2020 form given his age.
5. Kyle Fuller
He is a little younger, only 30 years old, and does not have the same notoriety as the other candidates. Fuller had a terrible 2021, earning a PFF rating of 47.2. That’s just a year after he was signed to a $9.5 million contract with the Denver Broncos. However, he is a former first-round pick and All-Pro (in 2018 with the Chicago Bears). Lou Anarumo and company may think he’s worthy of being their next Eli Apple-esque recovery project.
For more on the moves the Bengals could still make in free agency, watch the video below:
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