Bengals make key transactions in free agency

By Del Duduit - For The Daily Times

The Cincinnati Bengals were active and signed three defensive players during a Friday frenzy session.

Defensive lineman Trey Hendrickson, and cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie and Mike Hilton were all signed in an effort to strengthen the Bengals defense, which was ranked 22nd in the league for points allowed, and 26th in yards gained.

Hendrickson is a 6-4, 270-pound pass rusher from Florida Atlantic and played for the Saints last season.

Awuzie comes to Cincinnati via Dallas and played his college career at Colorado, while Hilton, from Ole Miss, is no stranger to the Bengals as he was with the Pittsburgh Steelers from 2016-2020.

But in a surprising move, the team released defensive star tackle Geno Atkins and signed offensive tackle Riley Reiff.

Cincinnati also traded quarterback Ryan Finley.

By releasing Atkins, the team frees up $9.5 million in cap space this year and $62.5 million over the next four seasons, according to the Bengals website.

Atkins was a popular member of the team with the fans, and he made eight Pro Bowl appearances and three All Pro First Team rosters.

Over his 11-year stint in Cincinnati, he compiled 75 sacks (third most in team history) and played in more than 160 games. Last year, he only made appearances in eight games.

The Bengals also inked left tackle Reiff, who played in Minnesota the past four seasons. This is a move to help protect quarterback Joe Burrow, who went down last season with a gruesome knee injury in week 11.

Cincinnati also traded away backup QB Finley. According to a report from ESPN, Finley was shipped to Houston for a sixth-round pick.

Finley, a fourth-round NFL Draft pick in 2019 from North Carolina State, played in eight games and had four starts. He threw for 638 yards and had three touchdowns with four picks and completed 48.7 percent of his passes.

And finally, offensive tackle Bobby Hart, was released after three years in the Jungle. He spent his first three seasons with the New York Giants.

The Bengals have the fifth pick in the first round of the NFL Draft, and they are expected to beef up their offensive line with Oregon’s Penei Sewell.

By Del Duduit

For The Daily Times

Del Duduit covers the Bengals for the Daily Times.

Del Duduit covers the Bengals for the Daily Times.