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D.J. Reader contract breakdown with Bengals

The Bengals opened up the checkbook in a big way to land one of the top free agent defenders.

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Houston Texans v Tennessee Titans Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

The Bengals are having one of the most productive offseasons in team history, and a big part of that was how active they were in free agency.

The big free agent prize was defensive tackle D.J. Reader, who is coming off a standout four-year stretch with the Texans. The former fifth-round pick proved to be one of the biggest steals in the 2016 NFL Draft. He has missed just three games in four years while starting 52 games, including every game he’s been active over the last three years.

Reader was a force in the middle of Houston’s defense, and he earned an 86.7 Pro Football Focus grade this past season, one of the top grades for any defensive lineman.

For his efforts, Reader landed a four-year, $53 million contract with the Bengals, which guarantees him $20.25 million and includes a signing bonus worth $16.25 million. He’s now the sixth-highest paid defensive tackle in football in terms of annual salary.

Here is a look at Reader’s full contract via Over The Cap:

If the Bengals were to cut Reader at any point, there would be a massive cap hit, even if it’s the final year of his deal (2023), which includes a $4 million dead cap hit.

If Reader is on the roster on the fifth day of the 2021 league year, he will earn a $5 million roster bonus. There are up to $400,000 in per game bonuses in each of the final two years of the contract.

For now, Reader has the fourth-biggest cap hit of any Bengal in 2020, trailing only A.J. Green, Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap.

And yes, this means three of the Bengals’ four highest-paid players are on the defensive line.