CINCINNATI -- The Cincinnati Bengals knew they couldn't keep all of their free agents, but they couldn't afford to let them all go. They made sure to keep cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick in Cincinnati, agreeing to terms on a five-year deal when free agency opened on Thursday. Kirkpatrick also had interest from the Steelers.
Terms: Five years
ESPN 150 ranking: 69
Grade A: After losing Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler, the Bengals needed badly to keep one of their own. Kirkpatrick, 27, is in his prime and will start, possibly opposite 2016 first-round pick William Jackson III.
What it means: This gives the Bengals stability. They have some uncertainty regarding Adam Jones, who will be 34 when the season begins and could be facing a potential suspension by the league for his January arrest. This locks down one side of the field. Should the Bengals part ways with Jones this year or in the future, they won't have to look for two new cornerbacks. Jackson would be the best candidate to play next to Kirkpatrick. The Bengals prefer to build through the draft, and having one of their own stay in Cincinnati is a big deal.
What's the risk: By giving Kirkpatrick a five-year deal, the Bengals are banking on the fact that he will continue to get better. A 2012 first-rounder, Kirkpatrick was inconsistent in his early years but has evolved into a solid starter. He had three interceptions in 2016.