Bengals agree to terms with former Texans defensive lineman D.J. Reader, per report

The Cincinnati Bengals have been fairly quiet over the first two days of the legal tampering period in the NFL, but they made a splash on Tuesday. According to Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle, the Bengals have agreed to terms with former Houston Texans defensive lineman D.J. Reader, and are making him the highest-paid nose tackle in the NFL with a four-year $53 million contract.

Reader was originally a fifth-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft out of Clemson, and he spent his first four seasons with the Texans. While he started just seven games in his rookie season, Vince Wilfork retired ahead of the 2017 season, which left the position open for Reader. He started 14 games in his second year, and recorded 47 combined tackles and one sack. Reader recorded career-high numbers in 2019, as he made 52 combined tackles and 2.5 sacks in 15 games played. 

The 6-foot-3, 347-pound defensive lineman turns 26 in July, and has the potential to become one of the best nose tackles in the NFL. He was considered one of the top free agents in this class, and head coach Zac Taylor is showing that he’s motivated to beef up his defense. The Bengals have had one of the worst defenses in the NFL over the past few years, and allowed an average of 393.7 yards per game in 2019 — which ranked 29th in the NFL. They also allowed 148.9 rushing yards per game, which was worst in the league. Adding Reader should help clog some of those lanes up front.

The Bengals are expected to take former LSU quarterback Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick. While Burrow has said that he will “show up” for “whoever picks him,” the Bengals clearly want him to feel good about walking into this situation in Cincinnati. He reportedly was a big reason the Bengals made the decision to tag wide receiver A.J. Green, and adding big pieces like Reader have to make him feel more comfortable as well. 

“I’m super excited, just really excited to get out there,” Reader said, via Wilson. “They’ve got good things going. They had a rough year. Hopefully, I can be one of those pieces for them.”

In 61 career games, Reader has recorded 154 combined tackles and 6.5 sacks. 

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