Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Darqueze Dennard had a breakout season in 2017 resulting in the team placing the fifth year option. What will he cost in 2019?
Following the breakout season of Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Darqueze Dennard, the team decided to place the fifth-year option on the former 2014 first-round pick. Even with the departure of former cornerback Adam Jones, Cincinnati looks to have a dangerous secondary this coming season. Dennard will resume his role as the slot cornerback, and cornerbacks William Jackson III and Dre Kirkpatrick will resume the outside positions in 2018.
It can be tough for Bengals fans as the team brings cornerbacks along slowly, but it paid off in 2017. During his breakout season, Dennard compiled 83 tackles, two interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), and six pass deflections. He ranked in the top 10 of Bleacher Reports top slot cornerbacks of 2017. Dennard was also ranked among the top cornerbacks against the run last year as well which is something that often goes unnoticed.
While Dennard has spent his time in the slot cornerback position, he can play outside as well. Which could be brought into consideration if he has another year like he did in 2017. It will be an even more significant part of the conversation if Kirkpatrick struggles again this season. Depending on how Dennard does in 2018 will depend on how big of a deal he will warrant next offseason.
One of the big reasons Cincinnati cut cornerback Adam Jones this offseason was his contract. The Bengals are already paying big money to Kirkpatrick ($9,568,750) and Dennard ($8,526,000) this season. Kirkpatrick is set to make $11 million in 2019 if he remains a reliable player for Cincinnati this season. How do those numbers match up with the rest of the league?
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The biggest contracts for 2019 at the cornerback position are Baltimore Ravens Jimmy Smith ($16,175,000) and Jacksonville Jaguars A.J. Bouye ($15,500,000). Dennard would have to have an incredible season for the Bengals topping all his numbers from 2017 to warrant that kind of deal. There are also great cornerbacks who are commanding less. Now San Francisco 49ers Richard Sherman is set to make $10,050,000 in 2019 (less than Kirkpatrick). Others like Denver Broncos Chris Harris are earning $8,766,668.
If Dennard were to have another excellent season for the Bengals, those contracts like Sherman and Harris’ are what we would likely be looking at. The question would be if the Bengals were willing to spend that kind of money on another cornerback, especially after Kirkpatrick not living up to his deal since it was signed. There will also likely still be some other significant contracts on the table next offseason.
Players like defensive tackle Geno Atkins and defensive end Carlos Dunlap have yet to sign new deals and are in the last year of their respected contracts. There’s been talk about possibly signing at least Atkins before the week one of the 2018 season, but it has yet to be done. There’s also players like tight ends Tyler Eifert if he has a healthy year for the first time in his career, and Tyler Kroft who will be in need of new deals.
Cincinnati is set to have over $57 million in CAP space come new league year next offseason before extending any of these players. Even with some of the big names that they could re-sign, I think there would be room for Dennard if he were willing to make a little less than Kirkpatrick. Again, it all depends on what he does in 2018 that will decide how much he will warrant for a long-term extension. It also is something the Bengals will have to look at and remember that William Jackson III will be looking for an extension in 2020 if he plays out his four year contract without the fifth year option.