Report: Bengals resign cornerback Eli Apple to $4M deal

Apple had a breakout year in 2021, per PFF.
Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Eli Apple (20) celebrates a deep interception return in the first...
Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Eli Apple (20) celebrates a deep interception return in the first quarter of the NFL Week 12 game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Pittsburgh Steelers at Paul Brown Stadium in downtown Cincinnati on Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021.(Sam Greene/Cincinnati Enquirer)
Published: Mar. 17, 2022 at 6:14 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - Cornerback Eli Apple has signed a one-year deal valued at $4 million to return to the Cincinnati Bengals, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Cornerback was among the Bengals’ top positional needs coming off a year where the defense ranked 26th against the pass. With Apple’s return, the front office has opted for a degree of continuity, though a free-agent signing at the position remains possible.

Chidobe Awuzie will keep his role as the team’s top cover corner. MIke Hilton also returns to his slot corner position.

Analysts have speculated the Bengals could cut veteran cornerback Trae Waynes, whose ongoing injury issues opened the door for Apple to start at the beginning of the last year.

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Apple, 26, was drafted by the Giants out of Ohio State in 2016. He also played for the Saints and Panthers before joining the Bengals on a one-year deal in 2021.

He started 18 total games for the Bengals in 2021, totaling 49 tackles, two interceptions and a fumble recovery.

His trash talk and trolling tweets have generated attention off the field, including the purchase of a Super Bowl ticket for Chiefs Wide Receiver Tyreek Hill.

Two weeks later, Apple was widely mocked for allowing Cooper Kupp’s game-winning touchdown in the Super Bowl with time ticking away in the fourth quarter.

Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Eli Apple (20) moments before kick off of Super Bowl 56, Sunday,...
Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Eli Apple (20) moments before kick off of Super Bowl 56, Sunday, Feb. 13, 2022, at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif.(Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer)

Still, according to Pro Football Focus, Apple had a breakout year in 2021. His 22.6 passer-rating allowed in man coverage was the lowest in the league.

Against the Titans in the divisional playoff round, he tipped the pass that fell into the hands of Linebacker Logan Wilson that led to Evan McPherson’s last-second field goal.

It was also Apple who stopped Hill near the goal line at the end of the first half of the AFC Championship Game, thwarting the Chiefs’ chance at putting the game out of reach before halftime.

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