The Cincinnati Bengals have been aggressive in free agency thus far, signing the likes of pass-rusher Trey Hendrickson, cornerback Chidobe Awuzie and former rival cornerback Mike Hilton, but they were arguably the most active team in terms of player movement on Friday. During what was a wild morning, the Bengals released star defensive tackle Geno Atkins, signed offensive tackle Riley Reiff and traded away quarterback Ryan Finley.
The release of Atkins saves $9.5 million in cap space this year off of the four-year, $62.5 million extension he signed through 2022, according to the Bengals' official website. Cincinnati's website also mentions that he could return "if the numbers match." Atkins, who was selected in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft, has been one of the Bengals' most consistent defenders over the last decade. He made eight Pro Bowls, was a three-time first-team All-Pro and racked up 75.5 sacks in 161 games played. After playing in all 16 games for six straight seasons, Atkins played in just eight games in 2020 and recorded one tackle.
The Bengals also announced on Friday that they had signed Reiff, who was the Minnesota Vikings' left tackle for the last four seasons. He started 15 games in each of the last two years, and turned 32 in December. Reiff was identified as a cap casualty, which is why he had the opportunity to look for a change of scenery this offseason. The Bengals know that keeping former No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow upright is going to be important moving forward, and a veteran like Reiff should help immediately.
Finally, the Bengals parted ways with Finley, who the franchise selected in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft out of N.C. State. Cincinnati was prepared to release him, but Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported that the Bengals ended up finding a trade partner in the Houston Texans. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the Bengals sent Houston Finley and a seventh-round pick in exchange for a sixth-round pick. The 26-year-old played in eight total games for the Bengals with four starts, and posted a 1-3 record. In all, he completed 48.7 percent of his passes for 638 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions.