One of the unsung heroes in the Cincinnati Bengals’ recent success is defensive tackle DJ Reader. Cincinnati made him the highest-paid nose tackle in the NFL when they signed him in 2021, and he has proven to be worth every bit of that contract.
Now, after three years in Cincinnati, Reader is slated to hit the free agent market in March. After tearing his right quad in the Bengals’ Week 15 win, his recovery will likely be a big factor in his value on the market.
Naturally, we all want Reader back in Cincinnati but with a contract for Ja’Marr Chase looming and figuring out what to do with Tee Higgins, the Bengals front office will have a lot on their plate.
Either way, Reader could still be in for a big payday. Per Spotrac, Reader is projected to get a three-year, $44.750,550 deal this spring. That breaks down to an annual value of $14.9 million per year.
Over The Cap projects Reader’s APY value to be $13,250,000.
Depending on how the other contracts play out, those projections could be too rich for the Bengals’ blood. While the team has changed its contract structures and strategies in recent years, they have historically avoided large third contracts with players over 30 years old. Reader will turn 30 on July 1st.
However, the production Reader has brought, mixed with a young, inexperienced, and, at times, players behind him, may force the Bengals to change their thinking and give Reader a big offer to anchor the middle of their defensive line.
Another thing to consider is familiarity and the chance to win a Super Bowl. With a healthy Joe Burrow in 2024, the Bengals will be in the mix of AFC contenders, and Reader can play another year under Lou Anarumo. Those factors could influence Reader to take a “hometown discount” and stay put for a little less money.