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Taylor encouraged by free agent haul as Bengals rebuild

Wed Apr 8 5:25pm ET

CINCINNATI (AP) Cincinnati had a list of top targets heading into free agency, and coach Zac Taylor says the Bengals got the players they wanted.

The Bengals announced Wednesday they had reached agreements with eight unrestricted free agents since the new league year started March 18, though all eight still must pass physicals. The Bengals' top targets included defensive tackle D.J. Reader and cornerback Trae Waynes as Cincinnati spent lots of money after going 2-14 in Taylor's inaugural season.

Taylor said the players Cincinnati landed in free agency speaks to how the Bengals are viewed outside their own building.

“It's just encouraging to know that there's a lot of excitement building around our organization right now,” Taylor said on a Zoom call with reporters.

“Guys are excited to be a part of it and look forward to getting to know those guys. Who knows the next time we'll get a chance to actually meet them physically. But it was certainly a fun process.”

Next will come the NFL draft with the Bengals holding the No. 1 overall draft pick and expected to take quarterback Joe Burrow after using the

last month.

Reader was the biggest piece of Cincinnati's new free agents, agreeing to a four-year, $53 million deal. The 6-foot-3, 347-pound tackle spent the past four years with Houston, and he has started 52 of his 61 games. He has 154 tackles with 6 1/2 sacks and was a fifth-round pick out of Clemson in 2016. The Bengals like his versatility.

“Can play a lot of different positions up front,” Taylor said. “He can be a three-down player for you and really affect the game,” Taylor said. “He's great against the run, really affects the pass during the pass game. Great energy. He's somebody (defensive line coach) Nick Eason has known a long time back to both their Clemson days.”

Cornerback Trae Waynes agreed to a three-year contract for $42 million. The other new Bengals include safety Vonn Bell, linebacker Josh Bynes, cornerbacks LeShaun Sims and Mackensie Alexander, wide receiver Mike Thomas and guard Xavier Su'a-Filo.

Six of the free agents come from playoff teams this past season, which Taylor said didn't hurt either.

“When you get a guy fresh off a playoff run, that's still very fresh in his mind of how he approached the season, how they attacked it as a team,” Taylor said. “It certainly helps our culture when you add guys that have recently been playing for a championship, and obviously that's where we intend to be very quickly.”

Six of the free agents brought in also play defense.

Waynes had seven interceptions in his 74 games after being the 11th pick overall in 2015 out of Michigan State by Minnesota. Bell has eight sacks, seven forced fumbles and seven recovered fumbles in four seasons with New Orleans.

“Trae was certainly a guy we felt good about,” Taylor said. “I watched every target he had this year. He brings a lot of toughness to that side of the ball as well, that position as well. He's a hungry guy who's played some good football.”

Bynes, who received a one-year contract, now is with his fourth team after playing for Baltimore, Detroit and Arizona. He has 4 1/2 career sacks, four interceptions and three forced fumbles. Sims and Alexander also are on one-year deals.

The Bengals landed Su'a-Filo with a three-year deal the day after free agency started. The 6-foot-4, 310-pound Su'a-Filo has started 53 of 75 games starting his career with Houston before spending the past two seasons with Dallas.

Player Notes
Vonn Bell May 26 11:53pm ET

Cincinnati Bengals S Vonn Bell hurried the quarterback on 37.9 percent of his pass rushes as a member of the New Orleans Saints in 2019 - the highest rate among all defensive backs with at least 20 pass rushes. Additionally, his pressure rate of 41.4 percent was the second-highest mark among all defensive backs with at least 20 pass rushes.

From TheHuddle

Brian Poole May 26 11:53pm ET

New York Jets CB Brian Poole hurried the quarterback on 33.3 percent of his pass rushes in 2019 - the third-highest rate among all defensive backs with at least 20 pass rushes. Additionally, his pressure rate of 40.7 percent was also the third-highest mark among all defensive backs with at least 20 pass rushes.

From TheHuddle

Kendall Fuller May 26 11:53pm ET

Washington Redskins CB Kendall Fuller hurried the quarterback on 28.6 9 percent of his pass rushes as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs in 2019 - the third-highest rate among cornerbacks with at least 20 pass rushes. Additionally, his pressure rate of 38.1 percent was also the third-highest mark among cornerbacks with at least 20 pass rushes.

From TheHuddle

Chuck Clark May 26 11:23pm ET

Baltimore Ravens S Chuck Clark finished in a tie for first among defensive backs with 78 pass rushes in 2019. He also rushed the passer on 18.1 percent of his 432 passing snaps - the highest percentage by any defensive back in the league with at least 20 rush opportunities.

From TheHuddle

Jamal Adams May 26 11:13pm ET

New York Jets S Jamal Adams finished in a tie for first among defensive backs with 78 pass rushes in 2019. His sack percentage of 8.3 was also the best among defensive backs with more than 50 pass rushes.

From TheHuddle

Calvin Ridley May 26 11:03pm ET

Atlanta Falcons WR Calvin Ridley hauled in 63 of 75 catchable targets and scored seven touchdowns in 2019. Additionally, Atlanta quarterbacks enjoyed a passer rating of 114.7 when throwing in his direction - the 11th-best passer rating for any receiver or tight end with at least 50 targets. The passer rating mark was lower than it was when Ridley was a rookie in 2018; he finished eighth among receivers and tight ends with at least 50 targets at 119.9.

From TheHuddle

Lamar Jackson May 26 10:50pm ET

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is hosting teammates for informal workouts in Florida next week. Many of Jackson's teammates are expected to be there, including wide receivers Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin. While NFL teams were recently given permission to reopen their facilities, it is still closed to players and coaches. The Ravens were the highest-scoring offense in the league last season and will be returning most of the key components on the offensive side of the ball. Boykin stated that there are also plans for additional workouts beyond next week. Jackson is primed to be the first quarterback selected in fantasy drafts this year.

From RotoBaller

Kenny Stills May 26 9:53pm ET

Houston Texans WR Kenny Stills caught 40 of 45 catchable targets and scored four touchdowns in 2019. Additionally, quarterbacks enjoyed a passer rating of 124.1 when throwing in his direction - the fifth-best passer rating for any receiver or tight end with at least 50 targets.

From TheHuddle

Jared Cook May 26 9:43pm ET

New Orleans Saints TE Jared Cook caught 43 of 52 catchable targets and scored a career-high nine touchdowns in 2019. Additionally, quarterbacks enjoyed a passer rating of 137.0 when throwing in his direction - the best passer rating for any receiver or tight end with at least 50 targets.

From TheHuddle

Sam Darnold May 26 8:53pm ET

New York Jets QB Sam Darnold was accurate on 52 percent of his throws that traveled more than five yards downfield in 2019. Every other qualified quarterback was 57.1 percent accurate on similar throws.

Fantasy Spin: This is the kind of thing that can happen to a quarterback when he has to deal with the combination of receivers not getting open quickly enough and the offensive line failing to hold up. Fortunately, he had Jamison Crowder to help him out with the short stuff, as the duo hooked up 70 times in the 13 games Darnold played. With the Jets making serious upgrades all along the offensive line, drafting Denzel Mims and getting Chris Herndon back, look for Darnold to be a solid fantasy QB2 in 2020.

From TheHuddle

Julio Jones May 26 8:23pm ET

Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones has recorded 286 receptions that have resulted in first downs or touchdowns since 2016, according to Pro Football Focus. Jones trailed only Michael Thomas (299) for the most over that span.

From TheHuddle

Michael Thomas May 26 8:13pm ET

New Orleans Saints WR Michael Thomas has recorded an NFL-best 299 receptions that resulted in first downs or touchdowns since entering the league in 2016, according to Pro Football Focus.

From TheHuddle

Marvin Jones May 26 8:10pm ET

Detroit Lions cornerback James Agnew has been the team's regular kick and punt returner since he entered the league in 2017, has seen time as a gadget running back and offensive weapon and has played as a backup cornerback and on special teams. But the Lions are hoping to make him a wide receiver full time when training camp starts this summer. Agnew has been attending virtual meetings with the receivers and cornerbacks this spring, but the Lions plan to transition him exclusively to offense when everyone returns to the field. He actually sat in on late-season receiver meetings last year because of injuries to Marvin Jones and Marvin Hall. Agnew played 16 total offensive snaps last season, but he should see much more time with the offense in 2020 as receiver depth behind Kenny Golladay, Danny Amendola, Jones and Hall. Even with the position switch, he'll likely be on the roster bubble.

From RotoBaller

Josh Johnson May 26 7:23pm ET

Free-agent QB Josh Johnson (XFL) wants to return to the NFL for the 2020 season and is patiently waiting for his chance. 'I think about it every day,' said Johnson. 'I'm waiting for the opportunity call from the NFL. ... One thing I've learned in the NFL, trying to stick around (requires) patience. You never know when an opportunity is going to come. So I just have to stay ready, and don't let nothing bring it down because I might get the call at Week 1 or I might get the call at Week 16.' Johnson played for 13 NFL teams across 12 seasons before joining the LA Wildcats of the now-bankrupt XFL.

From TheHuddle

Carlos Hyde May 26 7:13pm ET

Seattle Seahawks RB Carlos Hyde is expected to complement RB Chris Carson with early-down work in 2020, according to Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times.

Fantasy Spin: Hyde won't begin the 2020 campaign with much fantasy value after totaling 1,112 yards from scrimmage and six touchdowns with the Houston Texans a year ago. Both Carson and Rashaad Penny are superior fantasy options when all three are healthy.

From TheHuddle

Joe Flacco May 26 6:50pm ET

New York Jets quarterback Joe Flacco (neck) says that he won't be ready to play by Week 1 of the regular season. I cant speak to exactly when Im going to be ready, but it will not be day one," Flacco said. That means that Jets will likely have to carry David Fales or fourth-round pick James Morgan until Flacco is ready to go. Flacco started the first eight games for the Denver Broncos last season, but then missed the rest of the season after suffering a neck injury. It appears he has not fully recovered yet, so who knows when Flacco will be back.

From RotoBaller

Duke Johnson May 26 6:43pm ET

Houston Texans RB Duke Johnson will gain a better understanding of the offense during his first full offseason with the team, according to offensive coordinator Tim Kelly. 'A lot of this stuff that we're covering right now, it's the first time (Johnson and David Johnson) really being able to kind of hear it in-depth and it's really, really good.'

Fantasy Spin: Johnson took a backseat to Carlos Hyde for much of the 2019 season and finished his first season with the Texans with 410 rushing yards and 410 receiving yards with five total touchdowns across 16 games after being acquired from the Cleveland Browns last offseason. He's likely to see limited usage behind David Johnson this season and won't begin the campaign with any fantasy value in standard redraft leagues.

From TheHuddle

Anthony Chickillo May 26 6:40pm ET

The New Orleans Saints officially signed linebacker Anthony Chickillo on Tuesday. In a corresponding move, the team placed pass-rusher Noah Spence (knee) on the Reserve/Non-Football Injury list because he tore his ACL preparing for training camp this summer. Chickillo, a former sixth-round pick of the Steelers in 2015, had just 19 tackles (nine solo) and half a sack in 11 games for the Steelers in 2019. The 27-year-old defensive end has just 7.5 sacks in his five seasons and will be pass-rushing depth for the Saints. Spence was a second-round bust of the Buccaneers and had one sack in seven games for the Redskins in 2019.

From RotoBaller

Joe Flacco May 26 6:03pm ET

New York Jets QB Joe Flacco (neck) said Tuesday, May 26, on SiriusXM NFL Radio he won't be ready for the season opener following offseason surgery. 'I can't speak to exactly when I'm going to be ready, but it will not be Day 1,' Flacco said. Rich Cimini of ESPN expects Flacco to debut for the Jets in mid-September.

From TheHuddle

Noah Spence May 26 5:43pm ET

Updating a previous story, New Orleans Saints DE Noah Spence (knee) was placed on the Reserve/Non-Football Injury list Tuesday, May 26, due to a torn ACL suffered while preparing for training camp.

From TheHuddle