Bengals say goodbye to Uzomah, add former Raven to replace him

Atlanta Falcons tight end Hayden Hurst (81) makes the catch against New Orleans Saints middle linebacker Kwon Alexander (5) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

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Atlanta Falcons tight end Hayden Hurst (81) makes the catch against New Orleans Saints middle linebacker Kwon Alexander (5) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

The Cincinnati Bengals said goodbye to tight end C.J. Uzomah on Thursday in social media posts thanking him for his contributions to the organization, and have already replaced him.

According to EnterSports Management, agents of former Falcons tight end Hayden Hurst, their client is signing a one-year deal with the Bengals.

The former first-rounder took a backseat to Kyle Pitts last year, but he had 571 yards receiving and six touchdowns as the Falcons’ starter in 2020. The Bengals had not yet announced the signing at time of publication; however, they did make official the previously reported three-year contract inked with former Patriots guard Ted Karras and two of their own free agent players re-signing.

Cincinnati re-signed defensive tackle Josh Tupou to a two-year deal and safety Michael Thomas on a one-year contract.

According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the Bengals also are bringing back quarterback Brandon Allen for a third season, on another one-year deal, to remain Joe Burrow’s backup. Additional reports indicate Cincinnati is re-signing wide receiver Mike Thomas as well.

Uzomah, a 2015 fifth-round draft pick of the Bengals who became a free agent Wednesday, signed with the New York Jets after securing a three-year deal worth $24 million. On Wednesday night, he posted on Instagram – and shared it on Twitter – a heartfelt goodbye to the Bengals and the city of Cincinnati.

“Thank you, Cincinnati,” he wrote. “I’ve had a difficult time putting into words what this city has meant to my family and me over the years. As I look back on my time in this organization, I couldn’t be more proud of what we have accomplished together. I came into this city 7 years ago a boy, and I am leaving now as a man. You have allowed this goofy kid to be himself. I couldn’t be more grateful for that. I want to start by thanking the Brown Family for taking a chance on me and allowing me to grow as a player and a person.”

Uzomah also thanked his teammates, coaches and “the most passionate and loyal people” that make up “The Jungle” on gamedays.

The Bengals posted a video tribute to Uzomah on Thursday morning. Uzomah was coming off a career year, catching 49 passes for 493 yards and five touchdowns, and had been a vocal leader for the team and a well-liked character in the locker room.

Hurst’s signing seems on par with Uzomah’s production.

The Ravens liked Hurst so much coming out of South Carolina in 2018 that they drafted him with the 25th overall pick that year — passing on Lamar Jackson, whom they would later draft 32nd overall. By 2020 they had traded Hurst to Atlanta but he proved to be a reliable pass-catcher and could blossom with Burrow if he can show the skills that once made him a first-round talent.

Cincinnati has addressed offensive line needs through free agency with the signing of Karras and pending signing of former Bucs guard Alex Cappa. According to reports Cappa is signing a four-year, $40 million deal and Karras is coming on a three-year deal worth $18 million.

The Bengals announced the re-signing of defensive tackle B.J. Hill on Tuesday, and Tupou is another big addition by return as another solid rotational piece to the interior defensive line. A fifth-year player, Tupou originally was a college free agent of the Bengals in 2017. He has played 40 career games with 16 starts, including nine starts last season, and has 48 tackles and a forced fumble.

Safety Michael Thomas, a 10th-year player who joined the Bengals last season, played eight games with one start in the regular season and saw some defensive snaps in three playoff games. He was a regular contributor on special teams.

Allen appeared in six games with one start in the finale at Cleveland but he threw for just 149 yards and two touchdowns. Wide receiver Mike Thomas, who also will be returning for a third season with Cincinnati, played in 11 regular season games and appeared on special teams in all four playoff games. He caught just five passes for 52 yards in limited action on offense.

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