The Bengals finished off the revamping of their starting secondary that began last year in free agency when they added their second starting cornerback in four hours Tuesday as they reportedly agreed to terms with one of the league's best slot men and a respected division foe in the Steelers' Mike Hilton.
According to multiple reports, Hilton agreed on a four-year deal on the same day reports had them locking up veteran starting cornerback Chidobe Awuze on a three-year contract. That came the morning after they reached the club-record four-year, $60 million contract with former Saints edge rusher Trey Hendrickson on Monday night.
Deals can't be announced by the club until Wednesday at 4 p.m.
The Bengals now go into Opening Day with their three top cornerbacks all brand new in free agency. Hilton could line up inside or outside Awuze and Trae Waynes, one of last year's free-agent prizes who never got on the field because of an injured shoulder.
The 5-9, 184-pound Hilton, 27, earned a feisty and tenacious rep during his four seasons in Pittsburgh he started 20 of 59 games. Pro Football Focus rates him as a solid all-around cover and run player and an excellent blitzer with 9.5 sacks spiced with seven interceptions.
So in the last dozen hours or so, a Bengals defense that has the NFL's fewest sacks in the last two years has acquired Hilton and his 41 career pressures to go with Hendrickson's 18 sacks in his last 28 games. As an undrafted rookie out of Mississippi in 2017, Hilton led PFF's chart for cornerbacks with 15 pressures. Last season he had nine, one behind the leader.
Among free agents on PFF's top 250 list, Hilton was ranked 29th and a slot ahead of former Bengals edge rusher Carl Lawson, now with the Jets, according to reports. Mackensie Alexander, the guy Hilton is ticketed to replace, is 94th on the list.