The start of free agency is less than one week away and the rumormill is heating up.
Early this morning, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick is expected to receive interest from the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans in free agency.
#Bengals CB Dre Kirkpatrick has an intriguing market: Rival #Steelers are in the mix, as are Dick LeBeau & the #Titans. One of the top CBs.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 4, 2017
It would actually make a lot of sense for the Steelers to be interested in Kirkpatrick as many of his best games have seen him shut down Steelers star wide receiver Antonio Brown.
For the same reasons, the Titans could be interested in him as former Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau (and also former Bengals head coach) is now defensive coordinator of the Titans.
The Bengals are surely trying to re-sign Kirkpatrick before he can hit free agency on March 9 at 4:00 p.m. ET. And, it’s safe to say seeing him go to the division rival Steelers would be one of the worst options, if not the worst option that exists.
The Steelers reportedly gave 2016 starting cornerback Ross Cockrell the lowest level tender this week as he's set to become a restricted free agent. That means, teams will be able to negotiate with Cockrell and supply the Steelers with a fourth-round pick if they want him. The Steelers, would still have the right to match any offer he receives. Whether or not he returns to Pittsburgh could impact whether the Steelers actually go after Kirkpatrick.
As for the feasibility of these teams signing Kirkpatrick, the Titans have the fifth most cap space in the NFL and the Steelers have the 23rd most cap space. The Bengals fall in the middle with the 10th most cap space in the league, per Spotrac.