The Bengals signing cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie and Mike Hilton will provide their secondary with a chance to grow together. Cincinnati signed Awuzie to a three-year $21. 75 million contract and Hilton for four years, $24 million. The Bengals also have safety Vonn Bell under contract through 2022.
Safety Jessie Bates is expected to sign a contract extension during the offseason and Cincinnati also has Trae Waynes who signed a three-year, $42 million contract during the 2020 offseason. Waynes missed the entire 2020 season with a pectoral injury suffering during practice in August training camp.
Hilton will replace Mackenzie Alexander as the slot CB. In 12 games with eight starts in 2020 Hilton finished with eight tackles for loss, seven pass breakups, five quarterback hits, three sacks and two interceptions. Hilton played in only the second game against Cincinnati in 2020 with three tackles.
Awuzie played only eight games last season because of a hamstring injury. Despite missing half the season with the injury, Awuzie had 38 tackles, five pass breakups and one fumble recovery. Awuzie played in 31 games the prior two seasons. Both Awuzie and Hilton are entering their fifth seasons in the NFL.
The signings of defensive end Trey Hendrickson, Awuzie and Hilton provide Cincinnati with far more flexibility in the 2021 NFL Draft. Cornerback and pass rusher were two of the biggest needs for the Bengals entering the 2021 season. They still need to add help on the offensive line.
If he is available Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell is thought to be the player Cincinnati will select with the fifth pick in the draft. The Bengals need more than Sewell. Cincinnati needs help on the interior of the OL and a veteran presence without putting pressure on one or two rookies to start would be more beneficial.
The Bengals were 19th in pass defense, 26th in touchdowns passes allowed and 18th in interceptions in 2020. Cincinnati went out and signed two players to help upgrade the pass defense. Detractors will point to losing likely losing Alexander and three-year starter William Jackson II signing with Washington.