The biggest splash thus far in free agency for the Cincinnati Bengals is adding former Saints pass rusher Trey Hendrickson on a four-year deal worth $60 million. The addition comes with some big positives, but also some question marks.
Let’s start with the good. As Joe Burrow continues to rehab his knee injury, you can certainly pick at Cincinnati’s approach to free agency over the first few days, mainly the neglect of the offensive line. However, you can’t pick at a team who had 17 total sacks last year adding a player who had 13.5 by himself.
Hendrickson has spoken openly about his excitement about coming to Cincinnati and be Burrow’s teammate. Fair or not, Cincinnati is generally not viewed as a favorable destination for NFL players, particularly free agents. Thus, something like Hendrickson’s remarks is noteworthy.
Now, for the question marks. First, whenever a guy puts up big sack numbers like Hendrickson did last year, he almost always works in a defense with other capable pass rushers that offenses have to worry about. Cameron Jordan and David Onyemata each had over six sacks last year.
Playing with other disruptive edge rushers made Hendrickson’s life easier. With Carl Lawson now a New York Jet, Hendrickson won’t have an obvious Robin to his Batman in Cincinnati. If that remains true, his production will be easier for offenses to neutralize this year. Hendrickson didn’t make much of an impact until last year.
Hendrickson has been in the NFL since 2017. The Florida Atlantic alum registered a grand total of three starts and six sacks before 2020. In the NFL, playing well immediately followed by entering free agency means getting paid.
Some team has to pay these guys who come out of nowhere and explode for one year. In Hendrickson’s case, it may as well be the Bengals. Still, deals like these don’t always work out well for the team forking over the cash.