Dre Kirkpatrick, Cincinnati Bengals Agree to New 5-Year Contract

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistMarch 9, 2017

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 18: Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick #27 of the Cincinnati Bengals catches the football during pregame warm up before a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on September 18, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steelers defeated the Bengals 24-16.  (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Dre Kirkpatrick established himself as the Cincinnati Bengals' most reliable cornerback throughout the 2016 season, and the two sides came together Thursday to keep their partnership alive well into the future. 

Kirkpatrick announced on Twitter he has agreed to a five-year deal with the team:

Dre Kirkpatrick @DreKirkSWAG

Cincy I'm coming home 5 more years

Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer reported Kirkpatrick will make close to $52.5 million over the course of the deal. 

Re-signing Kirkpatrick helps stop the bleeding in Cincinnati. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported offensive guard Kevin Zeitler will sign with the Cleveland Browns, while offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth will join the Los Angeles Rams.

Dehner Jr. and NBCSN's Ross Tucker tweeted that it has been a rough offseason already for the Bengals:

Paul Dehner Jr. @pauldehnerjr

Bottom line: This is the second consecutive season the #Bengals top free agent target on their own team got away. Marvin Jones, now Whit.

Ross Tucker @RossTuckerNFL

That sound you hear is the Bengals window for winning a playoff game closing ...

Kirkpatrick arrived in Cincinnati when the Bengals selected him 17th overall in the 2012 draft, but his rookie season was derailed by a variety of injuries. 

It didn't take long before the Alabama product made his presence felt. 

Kirkpatrick had three interceptions apiece in 2013 and 2014, and he slid into a bigger role in 2015 when he notched 70 total tackles and a career-high 16 defended passes over the course of 15 starts. 

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"He's one that has a career here that didn’t get started the way he, or we, wanted," head coach Marvin Lewis said, per Dehner and Jim Owczarski. "Yet he's battled his way through it and come out the other side. He's a guy who has grown up, and it’s been so cool to be a part of and watch."

Kirkpatrick tallied another three interceptions in 2016 to go with 10 defended passes, and he showed gradual improvement as the season wore on. 

According to Pro Football Focus' Matt Claassen, Kirkpatrick finished with the "eighth-lowest yards per cover snap allowed for cornerbacks."

"I go back and watch film all the time," Kirkpatrick said, per ESPN.com's Katherine Terrell. "I feel like my game also changed throughout the year, too. I feel like I still got a lot left in me. And I’m young, 27, I still got a lot to go."

By keeping Kirkpatrick in the fold, the Bengals ensured their starting cornerback tandem from last season will stay intact.

But with Adam Jones' status uncertain beyond the 2017 season, Kirkpatrick may soon need to do more heavy lifting as the Bengals get set to transition 2016 first-round pick William Jackson III to a more significant role.  

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