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Bengals sign Eli Apple

The Bengals are adding a third cornerback to their free agency haul.

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New Orleans Saints v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Will Vragovic/Getty Images

UPDATE

The team has officially announced the signing of free agent cornerback Eli Apple.


The Cincinnati Bengals are signing free agent cornerback Eli Apple, per NFL Network insider Mike Garafolo.

Per Cincinnati.com’s Tyler Dragon, Apple’s deal is just for one year.

Apple, a sixth-year player out of the Ohio State University, was originally a first-round draft pick by the New York Giants in 2016. Apple started 23 games for the Giants before he was traded to the New Orleans Saints right before the 2018 trade deadline. Apple then started 25 games for the Saints through the 2019 season before his rookie contract expired.

In his first four years in the league, Apple amassed 197 solo tackles, 33 passes defensed, three interceptions, and three forced fumbles. In 2018, he achieved his highest Pro Football Focus defense grade (65) and coverage grade (64.2).

Apple signed a one-year deal with the Carolina Panthers in the 2020 offseason, but injuries limited him to just two games played during the season. The Panthers released him on October 27th, and he had been a free agent ever since.

Having played with the Giants and Saints, Apple has a few connections to the Bengals. Defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo was the Giants’ secondary coach during Apple’s last season in the Big Apple. In New Orleans, Apple played with Vonn Bell and Trey Hendrickson, and his connection with Bell goes back to his OSU days when the two played in the same secondary for two seasons and a National Championship run. Apple’s most notable play in the NFL involved him forcing a fumble against the Seattle Seahawks and Bell returning it for a touchdown.

The Bengals were aggressive last week in signing cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie and Mike Hilton, but they still need better depth than what they had last year. Apple figures to round out the position group along with Darius Phillips and Tony Brown.

What do you think of the Apple signing? Let us know in the comments below!

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