Cincinnati Bengals release cornerback Trae Waynes after two injury-plagued seasons

CINCINNATI -- The Cincinnati Bengals released cornerback Trae Waynes on Monday.

He was entering the final season of a three-year contract that was worth up to $42 million. Cincinnati saves $10.9 million against the salary cap while incurring $5 million in dead money for the upcoming season, according to Roster Management System.

Waynes, the 11th overall pick in the 2015 draft, played in just five games in two seasons with the Bengals.

"Injuries played a big part there, for sure," Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo said in February at the NFL scouting combine, when asked why Waynes didn't pan out with the club.

Waynes suffered a torn pectoral injury during the 2020 training camp that caused him to miss the entire season. In 2021, he battled through a hamstring injury that eventually put him on injured reserve for eight weeks. By the time he returned, the Bengals stuck with Chidobe Awuzie and Eli Apple as their starting outside cornerbacks. Last week, Cincinnati re-signed Apple to a one-year contract.

Waynes' arrival in Cincinnati sparked a shift in the front office's roster composition process. The 2020 free-agency period saw the Bengals sign several external free agents to big contracts, including the four-year, $53 million deal for defensive tackle D.J. Reader.

That trend continued in '21, before Cincinnati's run to Super Bowl LVI, and last week too. The Bengals have added three offensive linemen in the past seven days -- center Ted Karras, right guard Alex Cappa and offensive tackle La'el Collins. Their contracts are expected to be worth at least $83 million combined.