Cincinnati Bengals strong safety George Iloka said he's open to a return to the franchise and lived up to that word, reportedly agreeing to a contract prior to the start of free agency.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported the deal, noting it's for five years and worth $30 million. Rapoport added that Iloka will receive $18 million in the first three seasons. Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports confirmed the report.
Prior to reaching a deal, Iloka made it clear that staying with the Bengals was on the table.
"I would be open to returning to Cincinnati and finishing what we started, getting a Super Bowl ring," Iloka said on March 1 on SiriusXM Radio.
"Free agency is an anxious time," Iloka told SiriusXM. "I know I have some possible suitors but the decision is up to me."
Iloka, 25, made 47 tackles and one interception in 2015. He was limited to 12 games because of a groin injury and ankle injuries. The former fifth-round pick has started 44 of the Bengals' last 48 games, emerging from near-obscurity to become a valuable contributor on the cheap.
Unfortunately for the Bengals, that will be changing in 2016. NFL.com ranked Iloka as the 24th-best free agent on the market and the third-best safety, behind only Eric Weddle and teammate Reggie Nelson. The 32-year-old Nelson is coming off a season in which he tied for the NFL lead with eight interceptions and is a free agent.
While Nelson's future is uncertain, the Bengals will be happy to have locked up Iloka before he hit the open market.
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