USA Today

There is no question that the Cincinnati Bengals’ biggest addition of the offseason was Joe Burrow, the quarterback they selected with the No. 1 overall pick in 2020 NFL Draft. But while their first two draft picks (Burrow and wide receiver Tee Higgins) were devoted to offensive players, the majority of the team’s offseason spending was devoted to upgrading on defense. 

The Bengals spent $42 million on Trae Waynes, $18 million on Vonn Bell, $4 million on Mackensie Alexander, and in their biggest outlay, $53 million over four years on former Texans defensive lineman D.J. Reader. Cincy has had superstar Geno Atkins pushing the pocket and slicing into the backfield for a while now, and complemented him with Carlos Dunlap and a rotating cast of other edge rushers, but since the heyday of Domata Peko, hasn’t had a true complement to Atkins on the inside. 

After signing Reader, they didn’t stop there. The Bengals signed former Packers and Lions defensive lineman Mike Daniels earlier this offseason, and on Friday, they swung a trade with the Broncos to bring in former Texans and Cowboys interior lineman Christian Covington. 

Covington is likely to fill a rotational role behind Atkins, Reader, and probably Daniels, but he’s a valuable depth piece who has experience as both a starter and sub-package player. To acquire him, the Bengals sent linebacker Austin Calitro to Denver. Calitro probably wasn’t going to have a huge defensive role in Cincinnati considering the Bengals have some depth in front of him and used two mid-round picks on linebackers (Logan Wilson and Akeem Davis-Gaither), but he’s a solid special-teamer and could have a more sizable backup role in Denver’s 3-4 defense. 

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