DE Trey Hendrickson was one of the NFL's breakout talents on defense last season.
The out-of-contract Hendrickson was one of several casualties on New Orleans' roster this spring as the Saints bid to get back under the salary cap in time for the new season, which officially starts today.
Poised to take advantage of the situation, the Cincinnati Bengals have swooped in early during free agency to sign Hendrickson to a four-year, $60 million contract with $32 million guaranteed across the first two seasons.
Signing Trey Hendrickson shows the Bengals mean business on defense
Trey Hendrickson made a real difference on pass rush duties in New Orleans last year, notching up 13.5 sacks and 25 quarterback hits as the Saints cruised to the NFC South division title. The star DE deserves a big payday and it's great that he's found it in Cincinnati.
It's a great deal for the Bengals too, who land themselves a player that the Saints' nation didn't really want to see go. The Florida Atlantic University graduate was a real fan favorite in 2020, and it will be tough for New Orleans to replace him in the short term.
If Hendrickson can maintain the same kind of form in the AFC North, Bengals head coach Zac Taylor will have found himself a real diamond in the rough on defense. Hendrickson's ability to create pressure on the opposition QB could prove invaluable, as the Bengals bid to make it back to the playoffs for the first time since 2015.
At the very least, Hendrickson would appear to be an upgrade on former Bengals DE Carl Lawson, who managed just 5.5 sacks last season and was signed by the New York Jets yesterday.
Trey Hendrickson isn't the only defensive talent the Bengals snapped up yesterday
The Bengals D improved a lot (on paper at least) yesterday.
Former Steelers cornerback Mike Hilton and former Cowboys cornerback Chidobe Awuzie have both arrived in Cincinnati to help plug a leaky pass defense.
Hilton has been one of the NFL's best slot corners in recent years, and though Awuzie did suffer a down year in a bad Dallas defense in 2020, analysts believe he still has a high ceiling.
This new-look Cincinnati D could be interesting to watch in 2021.