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Reports: Lou Anarumo Gets Another Weapon in Ravens Ball-Hawking Safety Geno Stone

Defensive Coordinator Lou Anarumo
Defensive Coordinator Lou Anarumo

Former Ravens safety Geno Stone, the defending AFC interceptions leader who stole a division game here at Paycor Stadium with the first of those seven picks, is reportedly the newest Bengal.

According to multiple reports Monday, Stone has agreed to a two-year deal that marks the fifth straight year the Bengals have secured a starter on the first day of free agency.

As first days went, it was business as usual with a blur of activity for the Bengals. They read the market when it opened at noon and by late afternoon grabbed one of their top targets. And, well after dinnertime, the decision-makers were still huddled over other potential deals.

That was after the Bengals recorded a turnover of their own when the NFL reversed field on the compensation draft picks they awarded them Friday. Citing a miscalculation, the Bengals received on Monday a late third-round pick (No. 97) and sixth rounder (No. 214) instead of two sixth-rounders. That gives them four picks in the first 97.

Cornerback Chidobe Awuzie, who had an interception in the Bengals' Super Bowl appearance, exited the secondary when he reportedly agreed to a three-year deal with the Titans.

 "Hungry, ferocious, relentless," is how Bengals left tackle and former Raven Orlando Brown Jr. describes his old/new teammate Stone.

The Stone deal, which can't be signed or announced until after 4 p.m. Wednesday, potentially revamps the Bengals secondary and may move Dax Hill from safety into the type of hybrid safety/cornerback played by Stone's old partner in the Baltimore secondary, Kyle Hamilton. That would team Stone, a ball-hawking centerfielder who can get you lined up, with consensus Bengals Rookie of the Year Jordan Battle.

The lineup remains to be worked out by Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo and his staff, but they've said they want Hill's first-round abilities somewhere on the field. Stone gives Dr. Lou another tool to diversify an already interchangeable scheme with Hill's versatility.  

What we know for sure is that Stone is a vintage 2020s Bengals signing.

They've had their eyes on Stone ever since they ranked the free agents because he doesn't turn 25 until next month and is an ascending player on a second  contract who has been productive on playoff teams. (Think recent secondary signings such as Awuzie, Vonn Bell, and Mike Hilton.)

"(Stone) is super smart. Great kid. He can be a green dot guy. Good ball skills. He's like a Ryan Clark," said a long-time Ravens observer, comping him to the long-time heady Steelers safety.

Stone, a seventh-round pick out of Iowa in 2020, had a slow start to his career that began getting cut twice by the Ravens as a rookie and included a stint on the practice squad.

Two years later he made seven starts for a Ravens defense that was top four in Anarumo's favorite categories: Points allowed, red-zone, and third-down efficiency.

Then last year Stone broke into the regular lineup for a defense that often showed a three-safety look and on one of his 951 snaps he delivered the Bengals a big-time blow.

In the second game of the year, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, who threw one red-zone interception in 2022, had the Bengals at the Ravens 17 in a game they trailed, 13-10, and were about to answer on the first drive of the second half.

But when Burrow went for wide receiver Tee Higgins at the goal line, Stone jumped in front and returned it 36 yards to set up the touchdown that made it 20-10 in Baltimore's 27-24 victory.

"A really good play by him, good disguise," Burrow said after the game.

His former teammate can still see it. Brown crossed paths with him during Stone's rookie year.

"He's got a natural ability to find the ball. I think he showed that with the interception he had against us. That's the kind of player we're getting," Brown said. "He's an extremely tough player. He'll fit right in. He's got that drive and a chip on the shoulder. He's a Bengal for sure."