Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Mike Hilton ranks at one of the most elite defenders in the league and comes at a pretty great price, too.
The 2022 offseason saw many players at premium positions get their bag including quarterbacks, wide receivers, and safeties. As the market continues to inflate, it will naturally become more difficult for teams to keep elite players when there’s often greener grass on the other side.
Good news for the Bengals: Cincy doesn’t have to worry about that — yet.
Young talents like Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase currently playing on their rookie deals have allowed the Bengals to maintain salary cap health while acquiring crucial free agents this offseason as well.
Burrow and Chase may have quickly developed into the faces of the franchise, but don’t forget about Mike Hilton, one of the top performers in the Bengals’ pass defense.
CBS Sports’ Cody Benjamin listed the league’s best bargain players at premium positions and picked Hilton as one of the best value cornerbacks:
"Yes, he’s a slot specialist rather than a shutdown starter on the outside, but everywhere Hilton goes, he finds the ball. It was his deal in Pittsburgh, and it remained his deal in Cincy in 2021. Thirty-five other corners average more per year."
Bengals’ Mike Hilton listed as one of best value cornerbacks in 2022
Hilton earns an average of $6 million per year and has a salary of $5 million for 2022. That’s pennies when you consider Packers’ Jaire Alexander is earning $21 million a year or that Rams’ Jalen Ramsey will earn $23.2 million this season.
Along with Chidobe Awuzie and Eli Apple, Hilton served a vital role in Cincy’s secondary last season as the team embarked on a historic Super Bowl run. In 2021, Hilton enjoyed an incredibly productive year in his first season in Cincy, recording 66 total tackles, eight tackles for loss, five passes defended, and two interceptions.
He notched a crucial interception in the postseason against the Tennessee Titans, and though he does assume more of a slot specialist role in the backfield, his value to the Bengals can’t be underestimated.
Cincinnati’s best chance to win a Super Bowl arguably comes within these next few years given that so many of their top performers are playing on dirt-cheap contracts.
Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Mike Hilton — all these players have significant bargaining power and may have the upper hand in securing big-money deals in the future. Enjoy this era while it lasts.