The Cincinnati Bengals historically have not been a team to make splashy moves in free agency, by the nature of their ownership. Mike Brown has not been one to open his purse strings easily. But he has taken a different course in recent years, in fact, even beginning before the drafting of Joe Burrow as their quarterback, coinciding with the departure of Marvin Lewis as head coach and the hiring of Zac Taylor.
Whether or not that change had anything to do with his willingness to spend, the Bengals’ first big foray into free-agency spending could have gone a lot better—and their past couple of rounds have done exactly that.
Their first big expenditure was the acquisition of former first-round cornerback Trae Waynes. Drafted 11th overall by the Vikings in 2015, he signed with the Bengals in 2020. He didn’t play at all that season due to injury, and took the field for all of five games, 243 snaps, last year.
He’s the reason they ended up with Eli Apple in the starting lineup, but they liked what they saw in Apple enough that they released Waynes earlier this year. And now the former Bengal has pretty much stated that he’s done with football, even if he doesn’t intend to file retirement papers.
“I mean it’s open but I’m not really exploring anything to be honest with you”, he said of pursuing offers in free agency, during a recent appearance on the Geary & Stein Sports Show, transcription via Pro Football Talk. “Multiple teams have actually called, but in my head I’m done. I’m not officially doing it, I’d say, just because I don’t do that shit. I’m retired, but it’s not like I announced it or anything”.
According to Josh Alper, he also said that there was a point this offseason where he was leaning toward signing with the Philadelphia Eagles, who employ his former Vikings defensive coordinator in that same role, but he decided against it because he felt he was “ready to be done” with his playing career.
The Bengals signed Waynes to a three-year, $42 million contract. He ultimately received nearly $31 million worth of that contract for under 250 total snaps played over two years in a total of five games. Needless to say, that’s good snap-to-dollar ratio, even considering the current economic inflation.
In all, he earned over $52 million through his seven-year NFL career, logging under 3500 career defensive snaps with 259 career tackles, seven interceptions, 43 passes defensed, two forced fumbles, and one sack. He had a total of 12 tackles and one pass defensed as a member of the Bengals organization over the past two years.