The Cincinnati Bengals are paying their cornerbacks handsomely.
According to Spotrac, the Bengals are committing $24,784,040 to cornerbacks this season. That accounts for 15.80 percent of the game of cap space. Only wide receiver has more money committed to it this year than corner, and part of that is because there are currently 12 receivers under contract vs eight corners.
There’s also the fact that A.J. Green is accounting for the majority of the receivers’ overall cap hit, whereas multiple corners are making big bucks the year. Leading the way is Dre Kirkpatrick, fresh off of his new five-year deal, which will pay him more than $50 million if he plays out the entire contract with the Bengals.
Kirkpatrick is set to have a cap hit of $9,384,375 this season, one of the highest hits any Bengal will account for. There’s also $12,000,000 in dead cap if the Bengals release him this year. That number does drop significantly as his contract progresses, but there’s very little chance he’s ever cut by Cincinnati.
The same cannot be said for Adam Jones, whose off-field issues will have him squarely on the roster bubble after the 2017 season. Jones has a $8,166,666 cap hit this year and if released, the Bengals would be on the hook for $666,666 this year and $666,666 in 2018.
After Kirkpatrick and Jones, every other Bengals cornerback will make less than $3 million in 2017. That includes former first-round pick Darqueze Dennard, who is set to make $2,538,740 this year. Dennard hasn’t quite lived up to his first-round billing thus far in his career, but he’s shown enough potential to think he could turn it around, just like Kirkpatrick did. His cap hit goes up significantly in 2018, the year of his fifth year option.
Another former first-round pick, William Jackson III, is set to make $2,205,828 this year. Along with Dennard, Jones and Kirkpatrick, that’s four former first-round corners accounting for more than $22 million in 2017.
The good news is the Bengals have other serviceable corners on the roster for minimal deals. That includes Keivarae Russell, Josh Shaw, Bene Benwikere and Tony McRae all making less than $800,000.
Two of these guys probably won’t make the final 53-man roster, though Shaw could be moved to safety predominantly. That would allow Benwikere, McRae and Russell to have better shots at making the final roster. Then again, rookie safety Brandon Wilson played corner in college, so that could make it easier to keep just five true corners.
Here is a contract breakdown of all the Bengals’ corners, courtesy of Over The Cap: