CINCINNATI — Bengals cornerback William Jackson III is just days away from becoming a free agent.
Cincinnati opted not to franchise tag the former first-round pick, which means Jackson could sign with a new team as soon as next week.
While the Bengals have said they want to keep Jackson, they have to have multiple backup plans in place.
Here are three recently released cornerbacks that could pique the Bengals' interest.
Jenkins would be an adequate stopgap replacement for Jackson.
The 32-year-old finished with 55 tackles (two for loss), three interceptions and 12 passes defensed last season. Jenkins has great ball skills and eight career touchdowns. He shouldn't command big money on the open market and could be a nice short-term solution, assuming the Bengals draft a cornerback in the middle rounds.
Cincinnati drafted Dre Kirkpatrick ahead of Jenkins in the 2012 NFL Draft. Ultimately, they could end up signing the latter this offseason.
Bouye, like Jenkins, is probably passed his prime, but he's still capable of being a serviceable cornerback. He only appeared in seven games for Denver last season, finishing with 23 tackles and six passes defensed.
Bouye was a Pro Bowler in 2017 and was still playing at a high level in 2018. He took a step back in his final season with Jacksonville (2019) and didn't recover after Denver traded for him last season.
He'll turn 30-years-old in August, but he's played in some big games and could be a solid value signing that could help shore up the Bengals' cornerback room.
Trufant has battled injuries in each of the last two seasons. He was originally taken by the Falcons in the first-round (22nd overall) of the 2013 NFL Draft.
Trufant spent the first seven seasons of his career in Atlanta, making one Pro Bowl. He signed with Detroit last offseason.
The Lions were a mess in 2020. They fired head coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn in November.
Trufant could be a solid veteran addition to the Bengals defensive backs room. He isn't going to be a star, but none of these three players would be expected to carry the cornerback room.
All three guys are solid veteran players that would likely be open to a short-term value contract. Adding one of these guys wouldn't prevent the Bengals from going after a Ronald Darby or another mid-tier cornerback in free agency.
Cincinnati has plenty of options if Jackson does sign elsewhere.
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