The 34-year-old spent two seasons in Cleveland and shined for the Browns in starting all 16 games last year. He racked up 109 combined tackles, three interceptions, three forced fumbles and two defensive touchdowns.
But the Browns are in the midst of another regime change and opted to cut Dansby loose, which was a mutually agreed-upon resolution, according to what he told Cleveland.com's Mary Kay Cabot:
They respect me enough to let me know "we're going to rebuild this thing, and we're going to do it with younger guys, and we appreciate everything you've been able to do for the organization, but we can't do that to you." They know I can't go through no rebuilding process. They said, "we respect you enough to let you go pursue your dream and your goal," so I appreciate it.
That dream and goal Dansby mentions is a Super Bowl ring. Cincinnati provides the means to achieve the objective thanks to a superior roster in place and a far less turbulent organization than Dansby has dealt with of late.
Aside from a three-year interlude with the Miami Dolphins, Dansby had spent the previous seasons of his career with the Arizona Cardinals, who brought him in as a second-round pick in 2004. He stayed there through 2009 before going to Miami, only to return to the desert for the 2013 campaign.
It's been somewhat of a nomadic journey for such a respectable player, but Dansby may have finally landed in a spot where he can have a realistic shot at the Super Bowl before he retires.
Cincinnati already has solid depth at linebacker with A.J. Hawk, Rey Maualuga and Vontaze Burfict penciled in as the starters along with Vincent Rey as a solid backup in the middle.
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As pointed out by NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, however, Dansby may be tabbed as a starter during the first month of the season at the very least due to Burfict's suspension:
Ian Rapoport @RapSheet
#Bengals made the signing of LB Karlos Dansby official today. He'll help deal with the loss of Vontaze Burfict for the first 3 games, too.3/30/2016, 2:37:13 PM
His performance level in the season's first three games could dictate that he remains in the starting lineup moving forward, but he figures to give the Bengals a great deal of flexibility within their linebacker corps.
The risk isn't too high for the Bengals to invest a short-term deal in Dansby, who's well worth the cost from an intangibles standpoint and continued to give his all despite a losing situation in Cleveland. He's bound to be grateful and eager to reward Cincinnati for providing the improved change of scenery while also getting the opportunity to extract revenge against his former team in their two meetings next year.
The Bengals will have to hope Dansby can produce like he did last season, but even if his gridiron skills decline to a moderate degree, he's still a serviceable starter and has better talent around him to compensate.