Happy NFL New Year! The Bengals' moves on 'The Billion Dollar Day'

03/12/2014 11:52 AM

In what Peter King called, “The craziest day in the 22-year history of free agency,” NFL teams agreed to contracts totaling over $1 billion in just nine hours. Here’s what you need to know about the Bengals’ moves on Day 1:

1. Michael Johnson got paid. But not by the Bengals. Johnson agreed on a five-year, $43 million deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Losing MJ93 was a move we all saw coming (for salary cap reasons)… and while it’s sad to see him go, you can do nothing but applaud a well-deserved contract for the talented DE.

2. Brandon Tate will be back. Bengals special teams coach Darrin Simmons pointed out that fans are entirely too hard on Tate. And as the 9th ranked kick returner and 13th ranked punt returner, the team could do a lot worse. Simmons said, “The returner’s No. 1 objective when the ball is kicked is to make sure we end up with it at the end of the play.” He doesn’t turn it over, so Tate will stay.

3. Bengals may match Browns for Baby Hawk. The Bengals placed a low-level tender on Andrew Hawkins this off-season so they’ll have five days to match the Browns. Cleveland offered Hawkins a four-year deal believed to be worth about $12 million. While earlier in the day, many thought matching would be unlikely… NFL Network’s Albert Breer reported this morning that according to sources, Cincinnati will match.

4. Kyle Cook uses Facebook for his breaking news. Cook took to his Facebook page to say his goodbyes to Cincinnati and break the news that he’d been released by the Bengals. The team confirmed the release soon after. Cook said he was surprised the team let him go.

5. Taylor Mays stays. Despite his inconsistency in past years, the Bengals considered Mays their most improved player last season before being placed on injured reserve… so he’ll be back, with the expectation that he’ll bring depth in his hybrid linebacker safety role. Expect the team to confirm his signing later today.

The craziest thing about the craziest day in NFL free agency history? Today could be crazier. Stay tuned, NFL fans.


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