9:49 AM ET
Ben BabyESPN Staff Writer
- ESPN Staff Writer
- Previously a college football writer for The Dallas Morning News
- University of North Texas graduate
Kirkpatrick, a first-round pick in the 2012 draft, spent eight years with the Bengals. The former Alabama product started six games at cornerback for Cincinnati in 2019 before he suffered a season-ending knee injury on Nov. 10.
During his time in Cincinnati, he started 67 games and made 99 appearances. He tallied 10 interceptions and 65 pass deflections.
“Dre was a part of the Bengals’ organization for many years, and displayed passion, energy and competitiveness both on and off the field,” Bengals coach Zac Taylor said in a statement. “We appreciate his many contributions to our team and community over the years, and wish him the best moving forward.”
His release comes on the heels of Cincinnati’s massive spending spree during free agency. Releasing Kirkpatrick, whose contract would have expired in 2021, will give the Bengals $8.3 million in cap savings in 2020.
After the Bengals wrapped up their two-win 2019 season, Kirkpatrick was asked about the possibility of being released this offseason. The 30-year-old believed such a move stemmed from his age instead of his performance.
“I don’t feel like I’ve done anything for them to remove me,” Kirkpatrick said on Dec. 30. “I feel like I’ve done everything right. I feel like I was one of the top guys when I was on the field.”
When he was the nearest defender in 2019, Kirkpatrick had a minus-2.7% catch rate allowed against expectation, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. He allowed 6.9 yards per target.
The Bengals landed Kirkpatrick’s projected replacement during free agency. Cincinnati agreed to terms with former Minnesota cornerback Trae Waynes, a first-round pick in the 2015 draft. Waynes received a three-year deal worth $42 million, an expensive contract for a franchise that does not typically spend that type of money on the open market.
Improving defensive personnel is a main priority for the Bengals this offseason. Last year, the Bengals were 31st in the NFL in yards allowed per pass attempt (8.26).