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Bengals News (3/17): Secondary secured

Bengals spent the second day of the legal tampering period improving their secondary.

Pittsburgh Steelers v New York Giants Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

For the second straight year the Bengals are active in free agency by committing more than $100 million
As reports surged through the first 30 hours or so of NFL free agency, the Bengals not only turned out to be as active as they were last year but also as defensive-minded when reports had them agreeing to terms with three new starters on that side of the ball by committing more than $100 million.

Bengals re-sign safety Brandon Wilson to a two-year contract extension
Wilson, a fifth-year player in 2021, originally was a sixth-round draft pick of the Bengals in 2017. He has played in 51 career games (two starts) and has 24 tackles and three forced fumbles on defense, along with 29 tackles on special teams. He also has served as Cincinnati's No. 1 KOR since early in the 2019 season and has averaged 27.8 yards on 45 career returns. His two kickoff returns for TDs are tied for the most in Bengals history, and his 103-yard KOR for a score on Nov. 29 vs. the N.Y. Giants last season stands as the longest play of any kind in team history.

Reports: Bengals continue to bolster the defense signing cornerback Mike Hilton from the Pittsburgh Steelers
The Bengals finished off the revamping of their starting secondary that began last year in free agency when they added their second starting cornerback in four hours Tuesday as they reportedly agreed to terms with one of the league's best slot men and a respected division foe in the Steelers' Mike Hilton.

Reports: Bengals continue to bolster the defense signing cornerback Chidobe Awuzie from the Dallas Cowboys
According to multiple reports Awuzie agreed on a three-year deal that could put him opposite Trae Waynes in the starting lineup and comes on top of the record four-year, $60 million contract they reached with former Saints edge rusher Trey Hendrickson on Monday. Deals can't be announced by the club until Wednesday at 4 p.m.

Cincinnati Bengals agree to deals with CBs Chidobe Awuzie, Mike Hilton, sources say
Awuzie agreed to a three-year contract worth $21.75 million, with $7.5M guaranteed, a source told ESPN's Dan Graziano. Hilton told ESPN's Jeremy Fowler that he was joining the Bengals. A source told ESPN's Adam Schefter that Hilton will sign a four-year contract.

Steelers players had best reactions to Bengals signing Mike Hilton
As we broke down while grading the signing, Hilton immediately arrives as the starting slot corner. He’ll join boundary guys Trae Waynes and Chidobe Awuzie as the starting three in the base defense. Based on his history of production, he should show well against the run and pass, as well as give the coaching staff plenty of options when it comes to disguising blitzes.

Scouting Report: A Closer Look at New CIncinnati Bengals Cornerback Mike Hilton
The Bengals agreed to sign former Steelers cornerback Mike Hilton to a four-year, $24 million deal. The 27-year-old should give Cincinnati's defense a big boost. Hilton had 51 tackles (eight for loss), three sacks, three interceptions and seven passes defensed in 12 games last season.

William Jackson to Washington on three-year, $42M deal
Former Cincinnati Bengals cornerback William Jackson is signing with the Washington Football Team on a three-year, $40.5 million deal with $26 million guaranteed, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported. Jackson gets $16 million guaranteed fully at signing and can make up to $42 million total, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported.

Andy Dalton’s production with Bengals would break Bears records
In fact, Dalton’s production over those nine seasons as a Bengal would rank at the top of every Bears’ passing record, shattering Jay Cutler’s records (he played eight seasons in Chicago) for passing yards and touchdowns.

Bengals upgrade pass rush with former Saints DE Trey Hendrickson
For all the concern with the Bengals losing defensive end Carl Lawson to the New York Jets when free-agent signings are made official on Wednesday, Cincinnati has upgraded adding one of the best edge rusher in free agency, Trey Hendrickson of the New Orleans Saints. Hendrickson had a breakout season in 2020.

Around the league

Trent Williams, 49ers agree to 6-year, $138.06M contract
Williams has always maintained his preference to staying in San Francisco. The 32-year-old was acquired by the 49ers last offseason in a trade the perennial Pro Bowl left tackle sought out, which ultimately ended a nine-year tenure in Washington that turned sour and culminated in a year-long holdout.

2021 NFL free agency: Tuesday's winners and losers
In very Bengals fashion, each player is precisely replacing a departing Bengal. Hendrickson will take the place of Carl Lawson, who went to the Jets. Awuzie is expected to replace William Jackson, while Hilton takes over for Mackensie Alexander. All three players are in their mid-20s and have promise. At least the Bengals are trying, which didn't always feel like the case in previous offseasons. (Insert obligatory "But what about Joe Burrow's protection?" comment here.)

Bears GM offered trades for Seahawks QB Russell Wilson before signing Dalton
"They talked, offers were exchanged," Rapoport said. "The Bears certainly made a big offer -- multiple first-round picks. The Seahawks slept on it. They discussed it. Yesterday, they decided, specifically coach Pete Carroll, 70 years old, does not want to rebuild, decided we are not trading Russell Wilson to the Bears."

Doug Pederson opens up on Carson Wentz relationship
"I understand where Carson's coming from because it's difficult," Pederson said, via NBC Sports Philadelphia. "When you're the starter and things like this happen and you basically get benched. Our season wasn't going the way we wanted it to go and it's difficult. It's difficult for any player to go through that. ... You've got to have the conversations, you've got to have the open-door policy, and you've got to communicate, and felt like we did that.