NFL insider gives Bengals rave review for stealing safety from Ravens

Detroit Lions v Baltimore Ravens
Detroit Lions v Baltimore Ravens / Michael Owens/GettyImages

The Cincinnati Bengals made a major upgrade to their secondary by landing former Baltimore Ravens safety Geno Stone in free agency. The Bengals signed Stone, the AFC's reigning interceptions leader, to a two-year deal, which has received rave reviews.

Adding a player of Stone's caliber is beneficial in and of itself, but stealing him from a division rival should make it even sweeter for fans in Cincinnati.

ESPN NFL insider Matt Miller gave the signing an "A+" grade, while lauding Cincinnati's front office for snagging a key piece of Baltimore's defense.

From Miller:

"This is the steal of the free agent class so far. Stone will be tied for the 11th-highest-paid safety in the game. Stone, who was drafted in the seventh round of the 2020 draft, gets rewarded after four years of league minimum pay. The 24-year-old has eight career interceptions ... but notched seven in 2023 alone, playing in new defensive coordinator Mike MacDonald's scheme.

"Now in Cincinnati, Stone will line up at free safety in a young secondary. To steal Stone from a division rival only adds to the high grade for the value of the Bengals being able to bring him in. . . . In a weak safety draft class -- we might not see one drafted in the first two rounds -- the Bengals check off their defense's biggest need with a savvy signing of an ascending player."

That's a pretty ringing endorsement for a deal that hasn't received a ton of national attention.

A focus on defense

When it comes to the Bengals so far this offseason, the vast majority of the conversation has been about the offense, and understandably so between Tee Higgins' trade request and the Joe Mixon trade.

But, the addition of Stone could prove to be the most impactful out of all of Cincinnati's moves. Stone was a difference-maker in Baltimore's secondary last season, and there's no reason to believe he can't have a similar impact with the Bengals.

With Joe Burrow and Ja'marr Chase out there, Cincinnati's offense is going to score points, but it's going to need the defense to limit the output of opposing offenses, and this move should definitely help in that regard.