Bengals cut former first-round cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick

March 31 (UPI) — The Cincinnati Bengals on Tuesday released former first-round NFL Draft pick Dre Kirkpatrick.

Kirkpatrick joined the Bengals as the No. 17 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. The veteran cornerback had 33 total tackles, four passes defensed, a fumble recovery and a sack in six starts last season. Kirkpatrick was placed on injured reserve in November due to a knee injury.

“Bengals fans, it’s been real,” Kirkpatrick wrote in an Instagram story. “I want to thank the city and my teammates. Until we meet again.”

Kirkpatrick, 30, had 302 total tackles, 65 passes defensed, 10 interceptions, nine tackles for a loss, three fumble recoveries, three sacks, two touchdowns and a forced fumble in 99 games for the Bengals. He made 67 starts during his eight seasons with the AFC North franchise.

“Dre was a part of the Bengals’ organization for many years, and displayed passion, energy and competitiveness both on and off the field,” Bengals coach Zac Taylor said. “We appreciate his many contributions to our team and community over the years, and wish him the best moving forward.”

The Bengals signed Kirkpatrick to a five-year, $52 million contract extension in 2017. He was set to earn a base salary of $9.4 million in 2020. The Bengals saved nearly $8.3 million against the salary cap for 2020 by cutting Kirkpatrick.

Cincinnati added to their secondary this off-season in free agency. The Bengals signed former Minnesota Vikings cornerbacks Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander earlier this month, making Kirkpatrick expendable. The Bengals lost cornerback Darqueze Dennard in free agency after he signed a deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

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