The Cincinnati Bengals surprisingly cut loose a secondary mainstay, releasing strong safety George Iloka, according to multiple NFL Network reports on Sunday.
The move just two weeks before the start of the regular season is a bit of a shock. The 28-year-old Iloka had been full-time starter in Cincinnati for head coach Marvin Lewis since 2013.
NFL Media reporters Ian Rapaport and Mike Garafolo both called this decison mostly financial, with Garafolo saying that Iloka is owed $5.3 million in salary and roster bonuses for 2018, with Pro Football Talk reporting Iloka’s cap hit of $6.2 million will be reduced by $4.4 million once the move is official.
Originally a fifth-round pick from Boise State in 2012, Iloka has been a starter in all 76 games he has been active over the past five seasons, missing four games in 2015 because of ankle and groin injuries. He is coming off a year in which he had a career-best 80 tackles for the Bengals along with one interception.
In 83 career games, Iloka has totaled 343 tackles and nine interceptions.
Iloka took to Twitter Sunday afternoon to thank the team that drafted him.
“Thankful for the opportunity Cincinnati. To my former teammates, best of luck and stay healthy, you guys have something special brewing there,” he wrote.
The Bengals may have foreshadowed the move in this year’s draft when they chose Jessie Bates in the second round from Wake Forest. The rookie is competing for playing time along with Clayton Fejedelem, Shawn Williams and Brandon Wilson at safety.
–Field Level Media