Dre Kirkpatrick was released by the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday, ending his eight-year run with the team. Dumping the veteran cornerback is a result of the massive rebuild the Bengals have embarked on this offseason.
The Bengals selected Kirkpatrick with the 17th pick in the 2012 NFL Draft and he started 67 games in his time with the franchise. He's been a full-time starter for the past five seasons. But the Bengals went for a full-scale upgrade across the board this offseason and Kirkpatrick's release saves them $8.3 million against the cap in 2020.
Cincinnati uncharacteristically shelled out big money to free agents this year. They landed defensive tackle D.J. Reader on a four-year, $53 million deal, gave cornerback Trae Waynes $42 million over three years, snagged Vonn Bell on a three-year, $18 million contract, and added cornerback Mackensie Alexander on a one-year deal. Those are in addition to a number of depth signings.
With all those moves, Kirkpatrick's spot was taken. The 30-year-old still has a lot to offer, but Waynes and former first-rounder William Jackson III are better fits. The Bengals ranked 31st in the NFL in yards per pass attempt in 2019 (8.26). It was time for a change in the secondary.
The Bengals have changed a lot this offseason and are likely to see even more changes during the 2020 NFL Draft. Unfortunately for Kirkpatrick, it meant that he wasn't in the team's plans.