After the Bengals heated up talks with slot cornerback Darqueze Dennard Thursday morning, a raft of outlets reported they had re-signed their top slot man for what is believed to be a one-year deal. So it looks like for the 10th straight season they'll have at least three first-round corners with Dennard (2014) rejoining starters Dre Kirkpatrick (2012) and William Jackson (2016). The only season they haven't had at least a trio of first-round corners since they took Leon Hall with the 18th pick in 2007 is 2009.
Dennard figures to sign the deal Monday morning, closing out an efficient first phase of free agency by retaining their major targets that also included right tackle Bobby Hart, tight ends C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Eifert and middle linebacker Preston Brown. And they did it by pretty much staying near the $20 million range they had allotted when free agency began ten days ago. Releasing WILL linebacker Vontaze Burfict probably helped fit in Dennard since that freed up about $5 million.
It may help them to do even more. Reports on Thursday had a pair of Giants, defensive lineman Kerry Wynn and safety Chris Riley, visiting Paul Brown Stadium, but both apparently left without signing a deal. Wynn has 4.5 sacks during five seasons in New York and is a defensive lineman that could roll through both as an edge rusher and inside tackle. He's also an excellent special teams player.
Dennard was always one of their leading targets and they didn't give up on him even though he went out into the market to pursue a job as an outside corner while they signed last year's Giants' slot man B.W. Webb, a guy that also played on the outside for new Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo. Maybe Dennard didn't get the job he wanted, but the Bengals have to be more than pleased to have him back. They love the toughness and tenacity Dennard brings to the slot with his tackling and acumen. According to profootballfocus.com, Dennard ranked 13th among NFL corners in percentage of stops against the run "that constitute a 'loss' for the offense." The web site also said he missed just four tackles on 653 snaps.