Instead of retaining their own top pass rusher in Carl Lawson, the Cincinnati Bengals opened 2021 NFL free agency by adding former Saints defensive end Trey Hendrickson. Now, they just might be pulling off a similar swap at cornerback, with NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reporting the Bengals have agreed to terms on a three-year deal with former Cowboys starter Chidobe Awuzie.
Awuzie, a former Cowboys second-round draft pick, was one of the most notable names to enter the market at corner. But his addition almost assuredly signals the departure of William Jackson III, one of the Bengals' top internal free agents at the same position. Jackson, a first-rounder in 2016, has not agreed to terms elsewhere, but Awuzie figures to step in as a likely starter opposite 2020 addition Trae Waynes, considering he's most experienced on the outside.
The 25-year-old Awuzie had somewhat of a roller coaster four years with the Cowboys to start his NFL career. After missing six games as a rookie, the Colorado product emerged as a steady full-time starter from 2018-19, combining for 150 tackles, 25 pass deflections and two interceptions during that span. In 2020, however, a hamstring injury and stint on COVID-19 reserve limited him to just eight games, and even when he was on the field, he struggled as part of the Cowboys' porous secondary.
Cincinnati spent big at CB in 2020 by adding Waynes and fellow former Viking Mackensie Alexander. Now, Awuzie is set to take over opposite Waynes in 2021 as Jackson continues to test the open market.