The Bengals are bolstering their cornerback depth before free agency even begins.
According to USA Today’s Tom Pelissero, Bene' Benwikere is signing with the Bengals this week.
After visiting four teams, former #Panthers CB Bene' Benwikere is signing with the #Bengals, source said.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) February 14, 2017
Paul Guenther and the rest of the #Bengals coaching staff really sold Benwikere - he had visited four other clubs prior to signing.— Jim Owczarski (@JimOwczarski) February 14, 2017
Benwikere, a Panthers fifth-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, started 10 regular season games in his first two years in Carolina and appeared in 23 total games from 2014-2015.
In 27 career games, Benwikere has accounted for 102 total tackles, 20 pass deflections, two interceptions and one sack. He also made two postseason starts as a rookie, but missed the team’s Super Bowl run in 2015 due to a broken leg.
That made him one of the more experienced members of the cornerback group in Carolina when the 2016 began after Josh Norman was let go, but Benwikere struggled as the team’s No. 1 corner. He was released after starting four games and has been bouncing around with different since.
The Dolphins briefly signed him and he later joined the Packers’ practice squad after he was cut in Miami. Since the season is over, Benwikere was free to sign with whoever he wanted, and Cincinnati ended up being his pick.
That’s interesting since the Bengals have impending free agent Dre Kirkpatrick, as well as the ongoing legal situation with Adam Jones, who may be cut at some point. You would think that one of those two isn’t going to be back next season, Benwikere realizes this (perhaps was even told this), and sees a great shot at a roster spot and playing time with the Bengals next season.
After all, the Bengals still have William Jackson III, Darqueze Dennard, Joshua Shaw and KeiVarae Russell under contract for several more years, so if you add both Jones and Kirkpatrick to that mix, this isn’t exactly a tempting destination for a free agent corner.
Outside Cornerback Depth Chart:
William Jackson III
Slot Cornerback Depth Chart:
But if Jones and/or Kirkpatrick leave, Benwikere is suddenly in great position to earn a nice role with this team next season. If nothing else, this is an insurance signing for the Bengals in the event they lose one or both of those aforementioned corners.