The Bengals went into free agency looking to beef up their pass rush and according to multiple reports Monday night they came out of the first day locking up one of the league’s hottest young pass rushers for the next four years in the Saints’ Trey Hendrickson.
The 6-4, 270-pound Hendrickson, off a 13.5-sack season that would have tied the Bengals’ official season record, inked what reports are calling a $60 million contract. That deal would eclipse another record, the club’s free-agent mark set last season by nose tackle D.J. Reader’s $53 million.
The deal came in the wake of reports that Bengals edge rusher Carl Lawson went to the Jets on a three-year, $45 million deal.
The Hendrickson agreement may not be the only news the Bengals make as the first day merges into the second. NFL media reported the Bengals were in the hunt for the Steelers’ Mike Hilton, one of the league’s top slot cornerbacks, as they jumped into the market as briskly as they began last year’s record spending.
Hendrickson, who didn’t turn 26 until the last month of last season, looks to just be kicking into his upside in racking up 18 sacks in his last 28 games. Last season he got both Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes twice and that included a sack strip of Mahomes on his way to 33 pressures and 11 quarterback hits during a career-high 53 percent of the snaps in a season the Bengals believe shows he can play all three downs.
Hendrickson leaped to a third-round pick out of Florida Atlantic in 2017 with the help of solid film and an NFL scouting combine that showed off his terrific athletic skills. Pro Football Focus gave him a 90 pass rush grade in each of his last two collegiate seasons and at his combine he breezed to 4.65 seconds in the 40-yard dash while logging one of his position’s best three cone drills in 7.03 seconds.
Hendrickson and Lawson each have 20 career sacks. During this past season, Lawson had 5.5 sacks to go with his 44 pressures in 728 snaps while Hendrickson collected his 13.5 sacks and 33 pressures in 558 plays as both worked off the right edge.