Don’t look now, but Cinderella has grown up.
The Cincinnati Bengals were the Cinderella story of the NFL last year, coming within about 30 seconds of their first Super Bowl championship, and a big part of that was defensive back Mike Hilton, who is back to help the Bengals finish the deal.
- Height: 5-foot-9
- Weight: 184 pounds
- Age: 28
- Position: Cornerback
- College: Ole Miss
- Hometown: Tyrone, Georgia
- Experience: Entering seventh season
On March 19, 2021, Hilton signed a four-year, $24 million contract with the Bengals, good through the 2024 season. His base salary for 2022 is $3,000,000. His cap number of $5,000,000 accounts for just 2.4% of the Bengals’ total salary cap.
Currently, Hilton carries $3,000,000 of dead money with his deal, which number decreases to $2,000,000 in 2023 and $1,000,000 in 2024. But, unless Hilton’s play somehow declines dramatically in the next year or two, it seems more likely that Cincinnati will be talking extension before long.
Despite the Bengals’ immense success last season, the majority of the national pundits just continue to disrespect the team that had been known as the “Bungles” for oh so many years.
But that’s OK, because inside the Cincinnati locker room, it’s a whole different story. Offensively and defensively, this is going to be a team to be reckoned with this year.
“We’re another year as a unit whole,” slot cornerback Mike Hilton said of a defense that finished near the top 10 last year, and in the top five in rushing yards allowed. “We’ve got a lot of playmakers and guys are a lot more confident in each other. We’re ready to go out there and prove our worth.”
Hilton has already proven his. Pro Football Focus tabbed Hilton, who came to the Bengals last year after four hugely-successful years with the Pittsburgh Steelers, as the No. 2 slot cornerback in the NFL last year.
Hilton finished the 2021-2022 season with 48 solo tackles, a forced fumble and two interceptions, including a pick-six against his former team late in the year. But he is not about to stand on his laurels as he contemplates another run to the Super Bowl.
“We’re even more hungry than we were last year,” he said. “With us being a young team, having that playoff experience is big for us. We know what it takes, and we got the right guys in the locker room to do it.”