As NFL free agency began to swirl Monday, the two-time AFC finalist Bengals were true to their word when their first big move of the offseason kept one of their core stars in linebacker Germaine Pratt.
Pratt, whose clutch play has earned him the nickname "Playoff P.," confirmed that he had agreed to a three-year extension. The Bengals won't announce the deal until the contact is signed.
"We're one play away, so why wouldn't you want to stay? We're close. It was a fact. I want to win," Pratt said. "I'm big on loyalty. They gave me an opportunity when I got in the league, so why would I try to leave for a team that wasn't as successful for more money? I didn't feel right about that."
Ironically, Pratt spoke from Charlotte, N.C., where he has an offseason home, and that's where another Bengals playoff hero is headed. Reports had strong safety Vonn Bell agreeing to terms with the Panthers.
Pratt, who turns only 27 in May, was rated the NFL's fifth-best coverage linebacker last season by Pro Football Focus with an overall grade that had him tied for 20th among 104 linebackers. Known for his exhaustive film work and relentless football hunting, Pratt had a career-high 99 tackles, six of them for losses, and arguably had the biggest forced fumble and fumble recovery of the season in the Dec. 4 win over the Chiefs that began a run of seven straight games the Bengals came up with a fourth-quarter turnover. Two weeks later Pratt kept the streak going when he scraped Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady's tipped pass off the Tampa Bay turf.
Although he had tweeted a few times hinting he'd like to play more on third down, Pratt worked a monstrous 76 percent of the plays in 2022 for a career-high 724 snaps.
But on Monday he said the third down issue isn't a big deal ("it will play out") and that defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo sticking around for a fifth season is a factor in the extension.
"Absolutely," said Pratt, a 2019 third-rounder who began his career here when Anarumo did. "I want to win and Lou staying, that helps a lot. Each and every year it seems like I improve and he lets me go out there and play and it's always beneficial knowing the scheme because it makes you play faster."