The Cincinnati Bengals are signing defensive end Wallace Gilberry, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.
This comes months after Gilberry left the Bengals in free agency to sign a 1-year deal with the Detroit Lions worth $1.25 million. However, Gilberry would go on to play in just four regular-season games with the Lions, during which he recorded four tackles.
Gilberry then suffered an abdominal injury that landed him on I.R., and the Lions later released him with an injury settlement in October. He’s been a free agent ever since. The Bengals brought in Gilberry for a workout on Wednesday, and it appears it went well enough for him to be signed.
It is unclear who the Bengals will be parting ways with to make room for Gilberry to join the 53-man roster. The team does not appear to have anyone that is a candidate to go on I.R., which means someone may need to be cut for Gilberry to join the team. The Bengals are not expected to make an immediate announcement on the signing.
A ninth-year veteran out of Alabama, Gilberry joined the Bengals midway through the 2012 NFL season after being cut that year by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In 14 games, Gilberry would become an impact player on the Bengals defensive line while racking up 6.5 sacks and 24 tackles in his first season with the team.
Gilberry helped the Bengals finish with the sixth-ranked defense in terms of yards allowed before re-signing with the team the ensuing offseason. He went on to record 7.5 sacks and 24 tackles across 16 games (2 starts) in 2013 while helping Cincinnati finish third overall in total defense.
But Gilberry was doing the bulk of his damage as a situational pass-rusher who also would line up at defensive tackle on passing downs. That role faded away when Michael Johnson left in 2014, forcing Gilberry into a starting role, in which he mightily struggled. In 16 starts that year, Gilberry had just 1.5 sacks and 48 tackles as the Bengals finished 22nd in total defense.
Once Johnson re-joined the Bengals in 2015, the belief was Gilberry would go back to his old role, and become similarly effective. But, that wasn’t the case as he struggled to make an impact. In 16 games (1 start) in 2015, Gilberry had just two sacks and 23 tackles while struggling to generate pressure via the pass rush.
It was clear Gilberry, at 31-year-old, had lost a step, and his days in Cincinnati appeared to be over with younger options in Margus Hunt, Will Clarke and Marcus Hardison on the roster behind Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson.
However, Hardison has since been placed on I.R. due to a pre-season shoulder injury. Meanwhile, Johnson has struggled mightily this season, and neither Hunt nor Clarke are giving Cincinnati much off the bench.
That’s why Cincinnati felt the need to add another defensive end, and Gilberry was one of the best options on a very thin market for pass-rushers.
Welcome back to the Queen City, Gilberry! Here’s to him stepping in and helping out to make the defense more effective after the bye week.