CINCINNATI -- A key member of the Cincinnati Bengals' defense is returning for 2023.
Linebacker Germaine Pratt has agreed to terms on a three-year deal, he confirmed to the team's website Monday.
"They gave me an opportunity when I got in the league, so why would I try to leave for a team that wasn't as successful for more money?" Pratt told the team's website. "I didn't feel right about that."
Pratt's return comes on the same day safety Vonn Bell agreed to terms with the Carolina Panthers and safety Jessie Bates III agreed to a contract with the Atlanta Falcons. When the regular season ended, it didn't appear that Pratt was likely to re-sign with the team that picked him in the third round of the 2019 draft. Following the AFC Championship Game loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, a Spectrum News TV camera captured Pratt in an outburst criticizing defensive end Joseph Ossai for a late penalty. During that moment Pratt also suggested the playoff defeat was his final appearance with the Bengals.
The next day, Pratt apologized for the tirade, a gesture defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo noted.
"[Pratt] came back the next day and stood in front of everybody and said, 'Hey, I wasn't a good teammate,'" Anarumo said at the NFL scouting combine. "To me, that's who and what we're all about."
Toward the end of the regular season, a team source familiar with the situation suggested that because of the Bengals' recent success, Pratt was willing to return under the right financial conditions.
According to a report from NFL Network, Pratt's deal will be worth $21 million.
Pratt, who turns 27 in May, has been one of the most dependable linebackers for the Bengals since his 2019 rookie season. He has started 46 games over the past three seasons, capped with a career-high 99 tackles and a team-high 10 pass breakups in 2022.
He has the movement skills to play on the outside and can track the ball from the second level on run defense. Pratt also has created coverage disruption as a three-down defender, but he lamented his lack of third-down snaps throughout the Bengals' run to the AFC title game this past season. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Pratt had 67 third-down snaps during the regular season; Logan Wilson, the team's other starting linebacker, had 196.
Pratt's highlight with the Bengals came on a game-sealing interception in the AFC wild-card win in January 2022 -- the team's first postseason victory in 31 years. The Bengals finished that postseason with their first Super Bowl appearance since 1989, losing to the Los Angeles Rams.
In four NFL seasons, Pratt has 355 tackles, 3 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries, 1.5 sacks and 3 interceptions.