Bengals sign OT Reiff to help protect Burrow

Bengals sign OT Reiff to help protect Burrow

10:38 AM ET

  • Ben BabyESPN Staff Writer

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    • ESPN Staff Writer
    • Previously a college football writer for The Dallas Morning News
    • University of North Texas graduate

The Cincinnati Bengals made a big signing for their offensive line Friday but also announced they were releasing one of their all-time greats on the defensive line.

The Bengals signed offensive tackle Riley Reiff, but coach Zac Taylor later announced that defensive tackle Geno Atkins was being released. Starting right tackle Bobby Hart will also be released, Taylor said. In addition, Ryan Finley was traded to Houston, with a source telling ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the backup quarterback and a seventh-round pick will go to the Texans for a sixth-rounder they had from the Dolphins.

Atkins, who turns 33 on March 28, has been with the Bengals since the team drafted him in 2010 and developed into an eight-time Pro Bowl selection and two-time first-team All-Pro and was named to the NFL’s All-Decade team for the 2010s. He has 75.5 sacks, which ranks second in franchise history.

Releasing Atkins will give the Bengals $9.5 million in cap savings during a bevy of free-agency additions that includes Reiff. Terms of Reiff’s contract were not disclosed by the Bengals on Friday.

Reiff, 32, spent the previous four seasons with the Minnesota Vikings and has played the right and left tackle positions. The signing comes after a year in which Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow suffered a season-ending knee injury, and Cincinnati made it a priority to boost the offensive line this offseason.

Reiff visited the Bengals on Thursday and went to dinner at a local restaurant with some of the team’s players, including Burrow, on Thursday night.

“Really impressed with [Burrow]. He looks great on film and he’s even better off the field,” Reiff told reporters. “Just the way he conducts himself. Down-to-earth. Cincinnati-type guy. Tough. Midwestern. Blue-collar. Comes to work.”

Reiff ranked 37th in pass block win rate (an ESPN metric powered by NFL Next Gen Stats) when lined up as a tackle. The emphasis on improving Burrow’s protection started at the end of the season when the Bengals parted ways with offensive line coach Jim Turner and rehired Frank Pollack, who spent last season with the Jets but had previously been employed by the Bengals. The Bengals ranked 29th in PBWR in 2020.

Atkins played in 161 games for the Bengals, making 134 starts. He was limited to eight games last season, which ended when he was placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. He finished without a sack for the first time in his career.

He has three seasons with 10 or more sacks, including a career-best 12.5 in 2012.

The Vikings released Reiff earlier this month in a move that created $11.75 million in salary-cap savings.

Reiff signed with Minnesota as a free agent in 2017, switching from right to left tackle in the process. He started 62 games including the postseason for the Vikings and allowed 12 sacks over four seasons.

A first-round pick of the Lions in 2012, Reiff played his first five seasons with Detroit. He has appeared in 135 regular-season games in his career, making 127 starts.

ESPN’s Courtney Cronin contributed to this report.