Bengals release offensive lineman; sign two others

Credit: Aaron Doster

Credit: Aaron Doster

The Cincinnati Bengals have begun making decisions regarding some of their pending free agents.

Two days after re-signing long snapper Clark Harris and cornerback Jalen Davis, the Bengals announced Friday the release of center B.J. Finney.

Clark and Davis were set to become free agents March 17 when the 2021 season officially begins. The Bengals re-signed Clark and Davis to one-year contract extensions, while Finney, who was under contract until 2022, now will be free to sign with a new team. Finney’s release saves $3.3 million against the cap.

Finney, a sixth-year player, joined the Bengals last season in an Oct. 28 trade that sent Carlos Dunlap to Seattle, but he appeared in just one game. Cincinnati has at least three other players who can play center on the roster, including starter Trey Hopkins and backup Billy Price. Guard Michael Jordan also played center at Ohio State and can serve as a backup.

Reports indicate Hopkins is expected to be ready for training camp following a late-season ACL tear.

Harris, a 2007 seventh-round draft pick with the Packers is heading into his 13th season, has served as Cincinnati’s long snapper since mid-2009. He has made 1699 career deep snaps for the Bengals without an unplayable delivery.

The 36-year-old enters the 2021 season having played in 184 career games for Cincinnati, one shy of Anthony Munoz (185) for sixth-most in team history and he remains the oldest player on the team.

Davis, a second-year player out of Utah State University who was due to become an unsigned exclusive rights player, originally was a 2018 college free agent signee of the Miami Dolphins and later spent time with the Arizona Cardinals. He joined the Bengals’ practice squad midway through last season and played in six games, recording four tackles. For his career, he has played in 11 games and totaled 10 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.

The Bengals have 26 other players who are set to become free agents, a group headlined by wide receiver A.J. Green, defensive end Carl Lawson and cornerback Will Jackson. Cincinnati reportedly has interest in bringing back Lawson and could be considering a franchise tag on the team’s top pass rusher. That decision will need to come by March 9, and a long-term deal could still be negotiated until July 15.

Green played on a franchise tag in 2020 but was not a big part of the offense as he tried to prove his worth after two years plagued by injuries, including an ankle issue that sidelined him for all of 2019. Jackson, the team’s first-round draft pick in 2016, played on a fifth-year option in 2020.

Bengals coach Zac Taylor and director of player personnel will be conducting media availability sessions next week.

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