The Pittsburgh Steelers have lost a few of their unrestricted free agents already this offseason and cornerback Mike Hilton is one of them as the former undrafted free agent out of Mississippi signed a four-year, $24 million contract with the Cincinnati Bengals at the start of this year’s signing period. After signing his new deal, Hilton was asked to explain why he decided to join the Bengals in free agency and he proceeded to say that said he’s always kept an eye on Cincinnati and what they have been doing and especially since they drafted quarterback Joe Burrow last year. Hilton also added during his initial media interview that he likes the way Bengals safety Vonn Bell and thinks and that he feels like the team’s other safety, Jessie Bates III, is one of the best in the game currently.
“Being in the AFC North, I’ve kept an eye on them,” Hilton said, according to Geoff Hobson of bengals.com. “They drafted Joe Burrow last year. They definitely have a franchise quarterback to build around, so I’m excited to play with him. I felt like it was the right fit for me.”
Hilton went on to add that one of the biggest reasons why he chose the Bengals was because he thinks he can help their defense with their pass-rush. He also feels like he will fit in quite well with the defensive scheme that they run and the personnel they now have in it that includes the two safeties, Bell, and Bates.
“I feel like having those guys over the top of me and just signing (Chidobe) Awuzie and getting Trae Waynes on the outside, I feel like this secondary is really beginning to come together,” Hilton said. “We’re young guys. Once we get on that same wavelength, I feel like we can be dangerous.”
The Bengals will be expected to make a move up in the AFC North in 2021 with Burrow now in his second year and the defense expected to be better through the addition of free agents such Hilton, who was such a great find by the Steelers several years ago. He’s great against the run and one of the best nickel cornerbacks in the NFL at blitzing off the edge.
“I play with an edge. I may not be the most outspoken guy, but I feel like my energy and edge is what I bring,” Hilton said. “It helps spark the defense. That’s what I’m going to bring to Cincy.”
With Hilton signing with the Bengals, the Steelers will get a chance to see him at least twice a season for the foreseeable future.