The Bengals beat the free agency starting gun by re-signing defensive end Wallace Gilberry on Tuesday.
Terms of the deal were not released but according to ProFootballTalk.com Gilberry will receive a three-year deal worth $6.75 million. Gilberry, who was signed as a free agent after being released by Tampa Bay on Sept. 14 last year, played in 14 games plus the playoffs for the Bengals in a reserve role behind starting ends Michael Johnson and Robert Geathers. Gilberry finished the season with career-highs in tackles (34), sacks (6.5), and fumble recoveries (three).
He scored his first career touchdown with a 25-yard fumble return against Philadelphia in a 34-13 win on the road in Week 15.
“Gil came in and helped us right away last season,” said defensive line coach Jay Hayes. “He’s an active guy with a nose for making plays. We’re glad to have him back, and to get him this year in time for a full run in our offseason program.”
Free agency and the 2013 NFL calendar year begin today at 4 p.m.
Gilberry would have become an unrestricted free agent without this new deal. He entered the NFL as a college free agent in 2008, signed originally by the New York Giants, and played four seasons with Kansas City.
The Bengals have also re-signed running back Cedric Peerman, punter Kevin Huber, long snapper Clark Harris and kicker Mike Nugent in the past week to keep them off of the open market. They used their franchise tag on Johnson, offering him a one-year deal worth $11.2 million with the hopes of signing him to a long-term deal, and have made tender offers to restricted free agent Jeromy Miles and exclusive rights players Andrew Hawkins and Vincent Rey.
The Bengals still have 19 players set to become free agents this afternoon. Because a player becomes a free agent doesn’t preclude him from returning to the team. At the top of Cincinnati’s priority list to retain are right tackle Andre Smith, linebacker Thomas Howard and cornerback Adam Jones.