Why leaving the Bengals in free agency was 'tough' for D.J. Reader

Reader signed a two-year deal with Detroit after four seasons in Cincinnati.
Cincinnati Bengals v Baltimore Ravens
Cincinnati Bengals v Baltimore Ravens / Rob Carr/GettyImages

After spending the past four seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals and helping to build the team back into a contender, signing elsewhere in free agency wasn't easy for D.J. Reader. But, the NFL is a business, and players are entitled to follow the best deals in free agency.

Reader signed a two-year deal with the Detroit Lions last month, and he recently reflected on his difficult departure from Cincinnati and why he can find some solace in the current state of the team.

"It's super tough, but things happen in free agency, and whether it's upstairs going in a different direction or, you know, I did get injured a couple times there," Reader said. "They may see it a certain way and I see it different. Who's to say who's right.

"I'm always gonna feel like I'm right, and they're gonna feel like they're right," he added. "It was super tough to leave something that you built, but there's comfort in knowing that I left it in a better place than where I found it. So I had to find comfort in that part."

There's two sides to every coin, and while Reader might be slightly sad about his time in Cincinnati coming to an end, he's also excited abouit the opportunity ahead of him in Detroit.

"I'm super excited, man," Reader said of joining the Lions. "It's a lot of talent on that team. The defensive side of the ball is just like loaded with talent and guys who are hungry. If you watch them play, those guys fly around. They don't do everything right or perfect, nobody does, but they fly around and they get after it. I think that's what's inspiring. So I'm excited just to get around those guys."

Reader will be missed in Cincinnati, there's no doubt about it. He was a big part of the defense when the team went to consecutive AFC Championships in 2021 and 2022 and made it all the way to the Super Bowl in '21. But, neither side can afford to dwell on the split, as both need to be fully focused on the 2024 season. Reader will set out to prove that the Lions were wise to invest in him, while the Bengals will look to bounce back after missing out on the playoffs last season.