Bengals players pleased with free agent signings

James Rapien

The Bengals aren’t known for spending in free agency, which is why their recent additions caught the football world by surprise.

Mike Brown committed nearly $120 million to five starters on defense. The Bengals’ aggressiveness was a welcome sight for fans and for players on the roster.

"I knew we were going to get some guys just from what I had been told and I had no reason to think they weren't telling the truth," defensive end Sam Hubbard told Bengals.com. “They really showed that they are trying to win games and bring a winning culture and they followed up those words up with actions. And made some big moves.”

The Bengals added defensive tackle D.J. Reader, safety Vonn Bell, linebacker Josh Bynes and cornerbacks Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander. All five are expected to be significant contributors in 2020. 

"It's exactly what we needed to improve on the defensive side of the ball and we got it,” Hubbard continued. “It's time to go to work and put it on display. I'm just really excited.”

Hubbard, 24, was one of the bright spots on the Bengals’ defense last season. He finished with 76 tackles and 8.5 sacks.

Hubbard wasn’t the only player happy to see the improvement on defense. Safety Jessie Bates thinks their aggressiveness could change the way players view the Bengals around the league.

"I kind of knew we were going to get some help in here as far bringing in some new guys. They were preaching about getting younger and we did,” Bates told Bengals.com. “You heard around the league the Bengals don't reach out to players in free agency and spend a lot of money because that's always been their philosophy. They've always been comfortable with some of the guys in the locker room. I think now it kind of gives the players an eye opener. They're not going to keep a lot guys around if they're not getting the job done. Whether that's not getting a contract extension if not playing well in that first year, nobody's safe, I think that puts a little bit of fire under a lot of people and opened their eyes a little bit. At least to the guys that have been there for a while."

Bates should benefit from the addition of Bell, who led the NFL with five forced fumbles last season. The 23-year-old Bates and 25-year-old Bell give the Bengals a young safety tandem whose skillsets complement one another well.

"I hear he's very smart, very well-rounded, which is step one in getting the right guys in the locker room," Bates said. "He introduced himself and we're excited to be working together."

Defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo will be able to get creative with how he uses Shawn Williams, who’s expected to play a hybrid linebacker/safety role.

"We needed a fresh culture,” Hubbard said. “Needed to develop a winning culture. Adding guys like this with the right mindset, the competitiveness, who do things the right way is the first step of many.”

The next step is the NFL Draft on April 23-25. The Bengals have seven selections, including the No. 1 overall pick. 

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