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Dre Kirkpatrick looks to thrive as the veteran for Bengals defensive backs

Kirkpatrick hopes to add his name to a long list of Bengals defensive backs who left the defense better than they found it.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Dre Kirkpatrick enters his seventh season with a new role.

This is the first season he will be counted on as the oldest member of the secondary, especially now that George Iloka has been released. Kirkpatrick has a long list of veterans to draw inspiration from, but he also has to worry about bouncing back from an inconsistent season and learning a new defense.

Dre Kirkpatrick

Height: 6’2”

Weight: 186 pounds

College: Alabama

Hometown: Gadsden, AL

Experience: Entering his seventh season

Cap status

Kirkpatrick is entering the second season of his five-year $52.5 million contract. He is set to make He is set to make roughly $8.1 million in 2018 while carrying a cap hit of about $9.5 million, according to Spotrac.

He is set to become a free agent again in 2022, but the Bengals have opportunities to move on from Kirkpatrick in the final two years of his contract while saving a sizable amount of cap space. The team would save $9.85 in cap space if they cut the corner after June 1st in 2020 or at any point in the 2021 offseason. Although the Bengals aren’t known for making such moves, it is worth noting.

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The Bengals drafted Kirkpatrick in the first round of the 2012 draft, and it took a long time for fans to get a good look at what kind of player the team got. Kirkpatrick started a combined five games over his first three seasons. He was buried on the depth chart behind guys like Adam Jones, Terence Newman and Leon Hall. Once most of those guys moved on Kirkpatrick was able to seize the starting corner position.

It hasn’t always been pretty with Kirkpatrick as a starter. He often gets caught holding or interfering, but he has balanced that with some pretty high-level play. In each of the three seasons Kirkpatrick has started, he has deflected at least 10 passes per season.

His role is shifting though as it is his turn to pass on the knowledge that he was given to the young corners currently on the Bengals’ roster. That list is headed by William Jackson who will likely be starting on the opposite side of Kirkpatrick next season, but guys like Darqueze Dennard, Davontae Harris and Darius Phillips will also be looking towards Kirkpatrick for guidance, which is something he is ready for.

“At the end of the day, I just want to be a good team leader, be a great veteran and help these guys,” Kirkpatrick told Jay Morrison of Dayton Daily News. “It’s like I just told Davontae a little bit ago, one day he’ll be in my shoes. I’m not always going to hold this position.”

Simply said Kirkpatrick’s impact on this team this season will go beyond how well he plays on the field. He is an extension of the coaching staff, and he will give these young guys wisdom that could land them in the same role he is in a few years from now.

Roster odds

Kirkpatrick’s spot seems to be pretty cemented in place. He is one of the most experienced players at a position the Bengals love having veterans at. It remains to be seen just how well Kirkpatrick will gel with new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin’s new defense, but he’s still a virtual lock to make the roster.

Not to mention the team doesn’t have much to gain by moving on from Kirkpatrick this season as they’d save just over $5 million in cap space, while carrying a pretty sizable dead cap number the next two seasons of around $4 million the next two seasons.

Roster odds: 95 percent