Things don’t appear to be off and running for the marriage between Trae Waynes and the Cincinnati Bengals, after the latter awarded the former a three-year, $42 million contract in free agency this offseason. The problem there was Waynes was unable to take a physical for the club, leaving the deal in limbo and preventing him from cashing in on a pretty hefty signing bonus. Unfortunately for the two sides, that may not have been the worst of it, because there’s another major issue that’s now arrived. 

This time it’s a pectoral injury, and one Waynes will reportedly seek a second opinion on — per Tom Pelissero of NFL Network — but it’s an injury that could end up costing him significant time in 2020. To be specific, depending upon the outcome of the added look at the injury, the 28-year-old might miss up to two months, which would be a massive blow to the defensive plans this season in Cincinnati, considering they signed Waynes to be a cornerstone piece of that unit.

To now, Waynes had been careful to take it easy until his contract could be finalized, at the behest of his agent, Brian Murphy. 

“I’ve advised Trae not to do any football drills, not to get out there on the field — certainly don’t do any live drills against other people — and my hope is that he’s following my advice,” Murphy explained during the contractual purgatory, via Albert Breer of “He signed a nice offseason contract to go to the Bengals, to be the man in their secondary, make a major contribution. And so under ordinary circumstances, he’d be killing himself to get in the best shape possible. 

“He did do all the Zoom calls. Obviously, there’s no physical activity there, and he’d really want to be in the best shape of life, so he can play the best football of his life. But because of the Bengals’ decision, he can’t do that.”

Weeks ago, Waynes himself voiced extreme frustration about the process — aching to put pen to paper so that he could begin truly preparing himself for what’s to come in 2020.

“That sh–’s terrible. It’s still going on for me,” Waynes said, via Pro Football Talk. “I signed here, but I ain’t really sign here. It was cool at first and I’m thinking it’ll be done and over with. Ninety percent of the league, it’s done for them. I know Cincy and a couple of other teams, they still ain’t pay nobody or let them take their physicals, so it’s technically still going on. 

“… How am I supposed to make myself better, without being able to push myself the way I want to push myself to have success? For me, the free agent thing, it was cool, I was excited for it, but it’s been a f–-ing headache since it really started.”

That headache is likely now a migraine for all involved, 

The former first-round pick played five seasons with the Minnesota Vikings before taking his talents to the Bengals in March, but with news of a possibly severe pectoral injury, his debut with the club may not arrive until late September or early October. He lands in Cincinnati having delivered up 247 tackles, 42 pass deflections and seven interceptions in his career for the Vikings, but has struggled as of late — allowing a passer rating of 107.9 when targeted in 2019. 

Still, the Bengals believe he could be a key piece of their rebuild, but they’ll have to wait for him [again].


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