It’s important for NFL teams to have a good passing defense, as the league is incredibly pass-happy. As a result of this, the Cincinnati Bengals signed cornerback Trae Waynes to a three-year deal worth $42 million last offseason to help out their secondary.
Well, so far, it hasn’t gone great.
To be fair, this isn’t an indictment on Waynes’ play, but rather lack thereof. Waynes was injured last summer and missed the entire 2020 season because of the injury. His contract is considered the worst in the Bengals’ organization by Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus, who had this to say on the matter:
"While Waynes is a very solid outside cornerback, earning grades of 63.4 or better in each of his five NFL seasons, he also has just one season in which he earned a 70.0-plus mark (2017). This deal felt a bit like paying a premium for a former No. 11 overall pick with prototypical size, and now it will be even harder to justify the price point."
Had Waynes played last season, he might not be the pick here for Spielberger, but the fact of the matter is that he signed a three-year deal and might only end up playing for two years. As Spielberger mentioned, Waynes has been a nice player but was he worth the dough the Bengals coughed up for him? We don’t know yet.
Will the Bengals regret the contract they signed Trae Waynes to?
The Bengals enter the 2021 season with entirely new faces as their starting cornerbacks. With Waynes not playing for them in 2020, it’ll be the first time fans see him in a regular-season game donning a Bengals uniform and he’ll be joined by former Cowboys corner Chidobe Awuzie and former Steelers corner Mike Hilton, who jumped ship from division rival Pittsburgh.
Personally, I don’t think the Waynes contract is that bad on paper but the injury is likely what made it the choice here. Hopefully, Waynes makes up for missing a year (though that wasn’t his fault) and balls out in 2021.
The Bengals could sure use a shutdown pass defense this year and a healthy Waynes might get them on that track.