The Bengals finalized what may be their biggest free agent acquisition this year by signing Kevin Minter.
The 26-year-old former Cardinals linebacker opted to sign with Cincinnati on a modest one-year deal. He hopes to have a big 2017 season that propels him into a long-term, big-money deal in the 2018 offseason, be it with the Bengals or another team. Reportedly, the Bengals offered Minter a multi-year deal, but, he turned it down in hopes of proving himself and upping the ante in 2018 and beyond.
For now, Cincinnati will still be paying him like a quality starting linebacker. His deal is worth $4.25 million, and like many of the Bengals’ contracts, it has several incentives.
According to ESPN’s Katherine Terrell, Minter received a $2.1 million signing bonus, which is also the only guaranteed money in the deal. He can earn a $1.1 million workout bonus. He also has a per-game roster bonus worth up to $250,000.
That means over $1.3 million of his contract will have to be earned through workouts and being active on game days. Here are the contract details, courtesy of Over The Cap:
Base Salary: $80,000
Prorated Bonus: $2,100,000
Roster Bonus: $250,000
Workout Bonus: $1,100,000
Cap Number: $4,250,000
Dead Money if Cut: $2,100,000
Cap Savings if Cut: $2,150,000
Minter immediately becomes one of the highest-paid linebackers on the roster. He’s already ahead of Rey Maualuga ($3.6 million) and Vincent Rey ($3.2 million) while trailing Vontaze Burfict ($4.7 million).
That speaks to how good of a player the Bengals believe Minter is, as well as how highly they thought of him to pay him like he’s one of their best two linebackers now. Minter and Burfict together certainly makes this defense more formidable than it was last year.
This signing could also spell the end of the road in Cincinnati for Maualuga, who now stands to make almost $4 million as a glorified backup. He fell behind Karlos Dansby last year, and Minter figures to have a similar role as Dansby playing on the outside and in the middle.
That’s not even accounting for Nick Vigil taking snaps from Maualuga in 2016 as the season wore on, and Vigil is on just the second year of his rookie deal. Keeping Maualuga, Rey, Burfict and Minter all on the final 53-man roster doesn’t make sense, so expect there to be some kind of movement here between now and Week 1 of the regular season.