To the shock of everyone, the Bengals actually became big spenders in NFL free agency this year.
Despite rarely ever being active in free agency under owner Mike Brown, the Bengals handed out several big-money deals to outside players this offseason, one of which being to former Vikings cornerback Trae Waynes.
The 11th overall pick of the 2015 NFL Draft out of Michigan State, Waynes has been a full-time starter in Minnesota for the last four seasons. During that span, he racked up 38 pass deflections, seven interceptions and 217 total tackles.
While his overall performance was enigmatic, Waynes showed enough potential for the Bengals to make him one of the NFL’s highest-paid defensive backs. His three-year, $42 million contract puts him in a tie for the sixth-highest average salary of any NFL cornerback. He also has a $10 million cap hit in 2020, the fifth-highest of any Bengal.
Here is a look at his full contract via Over The Cap:
For a guy that had a 65.1 PFF grade last season, it seems like the Bengals overpaid to get Waynes. However, he has shown the potential to play at a level worthy of such a deal, including in 2017 when he was one of the top corners in man coverage.
Looking ahead, Waynes is pretty much locked into a starting boundary cornerback spot for the foreseeable future in Cincinnati. And with William Jackson, Mackensie Alexander and Darius Phillips set to hit free agency next offseason, it made sense for the Bengals to ensure they have at least one starting corner locked up for 2020 and beyond.