Cincinnati Bengals $24M Key To Postseason Victory

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Are the Cincinnati Bengals the first team that comes to mind when it comes to 2021’s free agency spending?

The Bengals invested $24 million in March on cornerback Mike Hilton as they finished revamping their starting secondary — a process started in the previous free agency — and it seems to be paying off.

The former Pittsburgh Steelers — and one of the league’s best slot men — helped secure Cincinnati’s win over the Tennessee Titans on Saturday.

$24M Key To Bengals Victory
Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Mike Hilton (21) celebrates after intercepting a third-quarter pass against the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Nissan Stadium on January 22, 2022, in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images).

At a crucial moment in the Bengals’ divisional round playoff game — just as the Titans seemed to be gaining momentum, and were at Cincinnati’s 9-yard line — Hilton intercepted a pass from quarterback Ryan Tannehill intended for wide receiver Chester Rogers and brought it back to the Bengals’ side.

Hilton jumped to bat the ball in the air and snatch it. He could have even had a chance to return it had Tannehill not run to tackle him after the INT.

Hilton signed a 4 year, $24 million contract with the Bengals that includes a $4 million signing bonus, $6 million guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $6 million, Spotrac reports. The 27-year-old cornerback will earn a base salary of $3 million in 2022, a roster bonus of $500,000 and a workout bonus of $500,000, while carrying a cap hit of $5,000,000 and a dead cap value of $3 million.

After going undrafted out of the University of Mississippi, Hilton signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars as an undrafted free agent in 2016.

While Hilton got the interception and took it 19 yards, he wasn’t the only Bengal who intercepted a Tannehill pass. Bengals safety Jessie Bates III and linebacker Logan Wilson cashed in on INTs, too.

Titans DB Armani Hooker grabbed a Burrow pass shortly after Hilton’s interception and gave the offense a chance to score in the third quarter.

Full gamebook can be seen here.

The Bengals went on to beat the Titans 19-16 in Nashville and will face the winner of the Chiefs vs. Bills matchup in the AFC Championship.

Follow Meg Turner on Twitter @Megnturner_ and Instagram @Megnturner

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Written by Megan Turner

Megan graduated from the University of Central Florida and writes and tweets about anything related to sports. She replies to comments she shouldn't reply to online and thinks the CFP Rankings are absolutely rigged. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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