THE BENGALS HAVE SIGNED A FREE AGENT BEFORE THE LEAGUE YEAR HAS BEGUN. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.
Per NFL Insider Aaron Wilson, the Bengals have signed defensive tackle D.J. Reader to a four-year, $53 million deal. This will make Reader the highest paid nose tackle in the league.
D.J. Reader heads to Cincinnati Bengals, according to league sources. $53 million over four years, according to sources, highest paid nose tackle in NFL— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) March 17, 2020
A fifth-round draft pick from the 2016 NFL Draft class, Reader began his career as a rotational player along the Houston Texans’ defensive front. He became a starter late in his rookie season and has been their starting nose tackle ever since.
Two above average seasons as a starter lead to a truly elite 2019 season, where he was Pro Football Focus’ fifth-highest graded interior defender. This was attributed to Reader’s increased effectiveness as a pass rusher, which was seen through his career-high 36 total pressures.
The #Bengals sign D.J. Reader, who was @PFF’s #2 free agent IDL and the #33 overall free agent in this class.— PFF CIN Bengals (@PFF_Bengals) March 17, 2020
Reader is still just 25 and has been stout vs the run and developed as a pass rusher (36 pressures in ‘19)
He was worth 0.14 WAR last season, which was 8th among DI’s.
Being an absolute brick wall against the run is Reader’s calling card and that’s why he’s now the highest-paid A-gap defensive lineman in the NFL. He’ll operate next to Geno Atkins and can even be out there on third downs from time to time.
Reader’s average salary comes out to just over $13 million, which would put him just behind Carlos Dunlap for the fifth-highest AAV on the team. The important figure is the guaranteed money, which has yet to be announced.
For now, the Bengals have struck a deal with one of the very best free agents available, and he can’t wait to be here.