Cincinnati Bengals release cornerback Trae Waynes after two injury-ridden seasons

CINCINNATI — The Cincinnati Bengals released cornerback Trae Waynes on Monday.

He entered the final season of a three-year contract worth up to $42 million. Cincinnati will save $10.9 million against the salary cap, while racking up $5 million in dead money for the upcoming season, according to the roster management system.

Waynes, the 11th overall pick in the 2015 draft, played in just five games in two seasons with the Bengals.

“Injuries definitely played a big part there,” Bengals defense coordinator Lou Anarumo said of the NFL scouting combination in February when asked why Waynes didn’t make it to the club.

Waynes suffered a torn chest injury during the 2020 training camp, which forced him to miss the entire season. In 2021 he struggled with a hamstring injury that eventually put him on the reserve bench for eight weeks. By the time he returned, the Bengals stuck with Chidobe Awuzie and Eli Apple as their starting wingers. Last week, Cincinnati signed Apple again to a one-year deal.

Waynes’ arrival in Cincinnati sparked a shift in the front office roster process. In the 2020 free agency period, the Bengals signed several outside free agents to major contracts, including the $53 million four-year deal for DJ Reader for defensive gear.

That trend continued into ’21, before Cincinnati went to Super Bowl LVI, and last week as well. The Bengals have added three offensive linemen in the past seven days: center Ted Karras, right guard Alex Cappa and offensive tackle La’el Collins. Their contracts are expected to be worth at least $83 million together.

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