The Cincinnati Bengals have struck a trade on cutdown day.
According to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Bengals will ship Bene Benwikere to the Dallas Cowboys for a sixth round conditional draft pick in 2019.
ESPN’s Todd Archer confirmed the news after it was initially being questioned by members of the media. This is the first Bengals-Cowboys trade since Jerry Jones bought the Cowboys in 1989.
Also per Archer, Benwikere needs to be on Cowboys' 46-man gameday roster four times (or more) in 2017 for the Bengals to get the Cowboys’ sixth round pick in 2019.
This is a great move by the Bengals who were going to cut Benwikere and now could get something out of nothing.
Benwikere, a fifth-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft by way of the Carolina Panthers, started 10 regular season games in his first two years and appeared in 23 total games from 2014-2015. He was a solid corner early on in his career who appeared to have a bright future ahead of him.
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. However, after playing most and best in the slot, Benwikere struggled as the team’s No. 1 corner in 2016 when pushed into a bigger role.
Benwikere was ultimately released after starting four games in 2016 due to significant struggles on the boundary, including a 300 yard game allowed to Atlanta Falcons star wide receiver Julio Jones. Benwikere has been bouncing around with different teams ever since.
The Miami Dolphins briefly signed him last year, and he later joined the Green Bay Packers’ practice squad after he was cut in Miami. Once the offseason hit, Benwikere was free to sign with whoever he wanted, and Cincinnati ended up being his pick after four teams reportedly offered him a contract.
Benwikere never had a good chance of making the roster with Adam Jones, Dre Kirkpatrick, Darqueze Dennard, Josh Shaw and William Jackson III on the roster. However, a one-game suspension for Adam Jones opened the door for Benwikere to sneak onto the roster, at least for one week.
But, Benwikere was unable to outperform second year cornerback KeiVarae Russell, who was clearly ahead in this battle heading into cutdown day. You could even make a case for Tony McRae playing better than Benwikere, who was beaten for several big plays during Thursday’s 7-6 loss to the Colts. He actually gave up the game-deciding touchdown.