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Free agent defensive tackles Bengals can sign to replace D.J. Reader

There’s no replacing Reader, but Cincinnati may have to try.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals Training Camp The Enquirer-USA TODAY Sports

In the middle of winning their first game on Sunday, the Cincinnati Bengals may’ve lost one of their best players for a while.

Nose tackle D.J. Reader got his left knee rolled up on early in Sunday’s game and was declared out almost as soon as he returned to the sidelines. Reader wasn’t carted off the field and didn’t go to the locker room until later on, so there is hope he didn’t sustain a season-ending injury. That said, he’s very unlikely to play on a short week and may be out for at least a few games.

Here are some available defensive tackles the Bengals can sign to replenish their depth.

Ndamukong Suh

The most notable player reportedly wants to play for a contender this season, so it’s a good thing the Bengals didn’t drop to 0-3 this week. Suh, who’s now 35, spent the previous three seasons playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If he’s indeed weighing his options, Cincinnati would need to offer a fair contract and ample playing time.

Vernon Butler

Reader and Butler were in the same 2016 NFL Draft class as Butler went in the first round that year. The 28-year old nose tackle spent the last two seasons with the Buffalo Bills and was with the Las Vegas Raiders during this past offseason.

Malcom Brown

Brown’s career was pretty solid up until he joined the Jacksonville Jaguars this past season. He had several quality years with the New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints prior to his one-year stint in Jacksonville and is still just 28.

Zach Kerr

How about a reunion? Kerr joined the Bengals in last year’s postseason when they were desperate for interior defensive line depth and ended up playing 45 snaps. He knows the system and locker room, so getting a quick deal done would be simple.

Star Lotuleiei

Lotuleiei was released by the Buffalo Bills this offseason. He’s 32 and is coming off the worst season of his career in 2021. He might just be a name at this point.