In a wildly confusing move, the Bengals are releasing starting safety George Iloka, according to Ian Rapoport.
The team has since announced the move without releasing a statement.
Per Rapoport, it is a financial decision, meaning extensions could be coming for defensive linemen Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap who are set to hit free agency next year.
With Iloka out of the picture, second round rookie draft pick Jessie Bates will likely be starting come Week 1. Bates played significant portions of the Bengals’ preseason win over the Cowboys last night, including time spent with the starters.
Last week, Marvin Lewis had high praise for Bates, maybe even foreshadowing Iloka’s release.
“We have been pushing him in early, and you want to see him take command when he has to take command,” Lewis said of Bates. ”He could end up being the guy back there real quick. You have to keep urging Jessie to move forward.”
Iloka was a fifth round draft pick for the Bengals in 2012 who is entering his seventh NFL season. He’s started every game for the last two years and the only starts he’s missed since 2013 were four due to injury. Iloka racked up 227 tackles, 32 passes defensed, 9 interceptions and 2 forced fumbles in his time with the Bengals.
Iloka has confirmed the news of his release.
Thankful for the opportunity Cincinnati. To my former teammates, best of luck and stay healthy, you guys have something special brewing there.— George Iloka (@George_iloka) August 19, 2018
You can’t just say God’s Plan during the good. It’s God’s Plan during the bad and the uncertain. So..... God’s Plan— George Iloka (@George_iloka) August 19, 2018
This is a big loss for the Bengals, regardless of the team’s reasoning. The Bengals now have Shawn Williams, Bates, Clayton Fejedelem and Brandon Wilson atop the safety depth chart with Trayvon Henderson and Tyrice Beverette also on the roster. Defensive back Josh Shaw has also moved around between cornerback and safety.
This is sure to shake up the Bengals’ roster decisions.
The surprising release of DB George Iloka clears $5.3M in cap space for the #Bengals, who carry a little over $20M of Top 51 space toward the end of August. https://t.co/EspQGzC303 pic.twitter.com/0YOaYMOrgw— Spotrac (@spotrac) August 19, 2018
But, I’ll also just leave this here...
George Iloka had a cap number of $6.2M in 2018 -- Michael Johnson's cap number is $6.1M. So "cap savings" sounds a bit like BS.— Josh Kirkendall (@Josh_Kirkendall) August 19, 2018