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Former Bengals DC Paul Guenther surprised Cincinnati cut George Iloka

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Fans and teammates aren’t the only people surprised by Iloka being cut. His former defensive coordinator was taken aback, too.

Cincinnati Bengals OTA’s Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

When the Bengals terminated starting safety George Iloka’s contract, it came as a big surprise to most people in Cincinnati.

Someone no longer in Cincinnati who was also surprised is former Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther, who’s now in the same role with the Oakland Raiders. Guenther left the Bengals this offseason after 13 years with the team. He obviously knows Iloka well and was with the Bengals throughout Iloka’s time in Cincinnati.

“I was kind of surprised they let him go,” Guenther said via Vic Tafur. “George has been a really good, steady player for them for a long time and really developed through the system inside and out.”

Iloka was considered one of the best Day 3 draft picks the Bengals made during the Marvin Lewis era after going from fifth round pick to second-year starter. Some have speculated (and others have reported) that the Raiders — whose safety unit is far from impressive — would be interested in signing Iloka, but Guenther says that’s not currently the case.

“I’ve been really kind of concentrating on getting ready for this ball game and really evaluating the guys we have at safety,” Guenther said, alluding to the Raiders’ third preseason game. “I like our safety group. I mean, we have a lot of different abilities back there, guys who can cover, guess who can hit and play the middle of the field. So I’m really focussed on getting those guys better.”

The Raiders’ safety unit includes 2016 first round pick Karl Joseph, former Bengal Reggie Nelson, Marcus Gilchrist, Erik Harris and Obi Melifonwu. Melifonwu was been injured since the start of August (and nearly since the start of his NFL career). Nelson is aging and set to turn 35 during the first month of the NFL season.

It’s safe to say Iloka could help Oakland’s safety unit, but we’ll have to wait and see where the former Bengal lands. The Chiefs, Cowboys and Chargers all could be interested, too, as they deal with injuries and instability at the safety position.