The Cincinnati Bengals have secured another long-term extension with one of their key young players.
The Cincinnati Enquirer first broke the news this morning that Ryan Hewitt was re-signing with the Bengals on a three-year extension. The Bengals have since confirmed the news.
Hewitt was entering the final year of his contract before he'd become a restricted free agent in 2017. Now, he'll remain in Cincinnati through the 2019 season under his new deal. Per the Enquirer, Hewitt will receive about $2 million this season and will make between $2-3 million annually over the length of the deal. Per Over The Cap, only four NFL fullbacks make more than $2 million per year. Though, OTC does classify Hewitt as a tight end, so there are likely other fullbacks being designated in the same way who are making more money than Hewitt is now set to make.
"Ryan came to us undrafted and quickly became an integral part of our offense," said head coach Marvin Lewis of the extension. "He's a strong and physical player. His role of doing the dirty work may go unnoticed sometimes by the public, but it is never unnoticed by his teammates or our opponents. We're excited to have him on board now for well beyond this season."
Drafted NFL players aren't eligible for extensions until they've completed their third NFL season since they hit free agency after their fourth season. But because Hewitt was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2014, he becomes a free agent after his third season. The Bengals also re-signed Vontaze Burfict prior to his third season with the team in 2014.
That's because the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement is constructed to allow undrafted players to sign extensions after just two completed seasons.
Hewitt has been the team's starting fullback/h-back for the past two seasons, and he's done well enough that Cincinnati made re-signing him a priority this offseason. Part of that has to do with him being one of the youngest players on the roster, not to mention someone without a lot of wear and tear under his belt.
Originally signed as a college free agent by way of Stanford University, Hewitt is 25-years-old entering the 2016 season. He's been mostly used as a fullback and blocking tight end thus far in his pro career, but is also occasionally be called upon in the passing game.
The Bengals lost Hewitt late last year due to a knee injury suffered in Week 16 against the Denver Broncos, which effectively ended his season. He finished the year with eight grabs for 99 yards.
In two years, Hewitt has caught 18 of 26 targets for 185 yards, which isn't much in the passing game, but he has shown enough promise in that role to think he could handle more opportunities.
It's also not crazy to think he battles Tyler Kroft for the No. 1 tight end spot if starter Tyler Eifert is out to start the season. While Hewitt doesn't do any one thing great, he's solid in a lot of different roles, and that kind of versatility is something the Bengals strive for throughout their roster.
All of this is why the Bengals are making a smart move to lock up Hewitt for the foreseeable future.