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Bengals releasing Dre Kirkpatrick, per report

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The Bengals are adding much needed cap space by releasing one of their most experienced veterans.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images

After eight years, the Cincinnati Bengals are cutting ties with another one of their former first-round picks.

The Bengals are releasing cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, per Tyler Dragon of The Cincinnati Enquirer.

Kirkpatrick took to Instagram to say farewell to fans and his teammates.

Kirkpatrick only played one season under head coach Zac Taylor, but here’s what Taylor had to say about his release:

While it didn’t exactly look like an inevitability as of late, releasing Kirkpatrick is a smart move for the Bengals to make. Not only did they go out and sign three new cornerbacks in free agency, they’ve spent what appears to be all of their salary cap space as well. Not only is Kirkpatrick’s starting gig now in the hands of Trae Waynes, the Bengals were actually in need of cap space, which could never be said until now.

Plain and simple: unless Kirkpatrick was willing to take a sizable pay cut, which would’ve been difficult to do with the way his contract was set up, he was set to make a lot of money to be a rotational player. This move grants the Bengals with approximately $8.3 million in cap space after they eat $2.8 million in dead money.

Kirkpatrick was the Bengals 17th overall selection in the 2012 NFL Draft, which was one of the picks they received via the Carson Palmer trade. After spending three years on the bench and in the rehab room with injuries, Kirkpatrick became a starter for the first time in 2015 and then had the best full season of his career in 2016, when he earned a coverage grade of 71 from Pro Football Focus.

That season came at the right time as Kirkpatrick secured a five-year, $52 million contract from the Bengals in the 2017 offseason. After that, the Bengals saw a consistently average player who never seemed to build off of that contract year he had. Missed tackles and a lack of ball skills constantly plagued Kirkpatrick’s game, but his recovery speed and toughness made him effective enough to be a starter. Those are the qualities he’ll bring to his next team, wherever they may be.

This is truly an offseason of change for the Bengals, and Kirkpatrick is the next domino to fall. Will Andy Dalton follow? Perhaps we’ll find out soon enough.