One of the favorite pastimes of Pittsburgh Steelers fans is ticking off the list of all the players they wanted the Steelers to sign or draft who would ultimately be signed or drafted by one of their division rivals, which often enough happens to be the Cincinnati Bengals.
Just in recent years, they jumped in front of the Steelers for William Jackson III, also landed Andrew Billings, and drafted Carl Lawson and Sam Hubbard, for example. Meanwhile, during this free agency period, they are adding safety Vonn Bell, a player some fans were hoping Pittsburgh could add to its depth chart—after the Cleveland Browns already signed Karl Joseph, a former first-round target of interest.
Bell was originally drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the second round in 2016 out of Ohio State. He would go on to be a four-year starter, for the most part, including 13 starts in 13 games during the 2019 season. For his career, he has 348 tackles with eight sacks, an interception, 14 passes defensed, and seven forced fumbles.
His contract with the Bengals is for three years and reportedly worth $18 million, so averaging $6 million per season. He should see $7 million in the first year of the deal. “I guess they said enough is enough and drew a line in the sand and they went and got some guys that can play the game and love the game”, he said about Cincinnati’s significant moves in free agency this year.
Bell is only the third new member of the team’s starting secondary. They also went out and added a pair of Minnesota Vikings cornerbacks in Trae Waynes and Mackenzie Alexander, the latter of whom will take over the slot position vacated by Darqueze Dennard, who signed elsewhere in free agency.
They join William Jackson III and Dre Kirkpatrick at cornerback, though the fate of the latter remains up in the air. Bell will pair with Jessie Bates III, who has been a two-year starter for the Bengals already since being drafted in 2018.
The signing of Bell opens up the door for three-safety looks, with Shawn Williams expected to play the role of that third safety. It’s something that their new defensive coordinator has applied heavily in the past to his prior defenses.