Bengals former free safety George Iloka has found a new home. The 2012 fifth round pick signed a one-year deal with the Vikings early on Wednesday. He will be reunited with Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer who was his defensive coordinator for two seasons in Cincinnati.
Iloka will be added to a safety group that already includes Harrison Smith and Andrew Sendejo. It remains to be seen if he will be able to earn a starting spot, but more than likely the team will either keep him on the bench, rotate him in during three safety sets, or use him if an injury occurs.
Iloka is a very valuable safety to have for the Vikings. He is very familiar with Zimmer’s defense, and is an extremely experienced defensive back who is willing to spread his knowledge of the league. Terms of the deal have yet to be released, but considering the shocking lack of interest in safeties across the NFL, it is doubtful that it will be as lucrative as what he was set to make with the Bengals.
Cincinnati released the veteran safety following their win against Dallas in the second preseason game. It was a very shocking move. Iloka had started both preseason games, and he hadn’t played poorly. Jessie Bates — the Bengals’ rookie safety who was drafted in the second round — also didn’t blow anyone away with his play. But, the Bengals are ready to role with the former Wake Forest stand out.
The Bengals and Iloka both claim the move was purely motivated by financial reasons. It still seemed a little fishy to many fans considering the Bengals have plenty of cap. Some believed it was motivated by Iloka being outspoken on social and political topics. Others chalked it up to him merely not fitting defensive coordinator Tery Austin’s new scheme because he is more of a hard hitting safety rather than a center fielder looking to make plays on the ball.
Iloka now joins a highly talented defense that just got better with his signing.