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Bengals News (3/18): Reading between the lines

Bengals shift perception after snagging one of the league’s top free agents.

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Carolina Panthers v Houston Texans Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Bengals made their two biggest free agency plays in history signing D.J. Reader and Trae Waynes
Although they can't officially announce the moves until Wednesday at 4 p.m., the Bengals made their two biggest free agency plays in history Tuesday when published reports said they agreed to terms with one of the best young lineman in the game in Houston nose tackle D.J. Reader and a former first-round cornerback in the Vikings' Trae Waynes while boosting their defense with two impact starters.

Sources -- Bengals agree to sign D.J. Reader, Trae Waynes to bolster defense
The Cincinnati Bengals, a franchise not known for making big splashes in free agency, made two massive acquisitions Tuesday, agreeing to terms with defensive tackle D.J. Reader and cornerback Trae Waynes, sources confirmed to ESPN.

Bengals bolster defense with D.J. Reader, Trae Waynes
Reader, the No. 15 free agent, is a force against the rush, having clogged opposing run games for the Texans for the last four seasons. In 2019, Reader had career-highs of 52 tackles -- and 2.5 sacks -- in 15 starts for the playoff-bound Texans.

2020 NFL free agency news: Jacksonville Jaguars sign CB Darqueze Dennard
Winner of the 2013 Jim Thorpe Award given to the best defensive back in college football, Dennard is a former first round NFL Draft pick — but injuries derailed his career. He has missed 19 games in his six-year career.

CB Trae Waynes leaves Vikings for three-year, $42 million deal with Bengals
With cornerbacks always at a premium, the Vikings entered free agency figuring he might receive an offer for several million over that. But Waynes getting more than a 50 percent raise from last season was a surprise for a player who never has made a Pro Bowl.

Bengals to sign free agent and former Vikings first-round pick Trae Waynes, per report
The Cincinnati Bengals have focused on retooling their defense in the opening days of the legal free agency tampering period. On Tuesday, the Bengals made Texan D.J. Reader the highest paid nose tackle in the NFL with a four-year, $53 million deal that will be signed (and become official) when free agency opens on Wednesday. Shortly after that news broke, the Bengals agreed to terms with former Vikings cornerback Trae Waynes, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Waynes lands a three-year, $42 million deal, per a source close to Rappoport. Waynes will get $20 million in the first year and averages of $14 million over the course of the deal.

Best trade destinations for Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton
Trading Dalton figures to be the most likely scenario and the Bengals have said they want “to do right” by Dalton. The three-time Pro Bowler is the franchise leader in touchdown passes and completions. More importantly, he’s been a model citizen in and out of the locker room.

Bengals Tried Hard For LBs Joe Schobert, Nick Kwiatkoski
Schobert got five years and $54MM from the Jaguars, and Fowler reports that they were unwilling to match that. Cincinnati is usually never a big player in free agency, and they’ve now struck out on a couple of their bigger attempts. The Bengals were also in until the end on Nick Kwiatkoski, who ended up with the Raiders, tweets Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic. Clearly, they’re looking for linebacker help.

Around the League

Tom Brady finalizes agreement to join Buccaneers
The Chargers and Bucs immediately became the two most likely destinations for Brady after the Tennessee Titans extended Ryan Tannehill on Sunday and Brady made his league-shattering announcement on Tuesday morning. After all, Los Angeles had let Philip Rivers walk into free agency and into an Indianapolis Colts uniform this offseason, while Tampa Bay had played coy about its attachment to impending free agent Jameis Winston since the combine.

Cowboys, Gerald McCoy agree to terms on 3-year deal
McCoy, 32, played and started all 16 games for the Carolina Panthers in his one season with the franchise in 2019. The D-lineman picked up five sacks last season, his lowest total since 2012. On his career, McCoy has 59.5 sacks.

Thomas Davis reuniting with Ron Rivera on Redskins
Any doubters as to whether the 36-year-old still had gas left in the tank were silenced as he started all 16 games and led the Bolts with 112 tackles -- 32 more than any other Charger.

Bryan Bulaga agrees to three-year deal with Chargers
Bulaga's time in Green Bay essentially came to an end Monday when the Packers agreed to terms with Rick Wagner, opening the door for a new chapter for the tackle. His $10 million per year salary is well below the league's highest-paid tackles, but at age 30 and with an injury history that includes two torn ACLs and a hip ailment, he wasn't quite in the best position to command top dollar.

Raiders, TE Jason Witten come to terms on contract
The 37-year-old tight end previously spent the duration of his career with the Dallas Cowboys. After a one-year hiatus to join ESPN's MNF crew in 2018, Witten returned to the field in 2019.