Dec 10, 2017; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals free safety George Iloka (43) against the Chicago Bears at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
The Cincinnati Bengals are releasing veteran George Iolka, who has started every game for the team since 2013, in a move to give second-round pick Jessie Bates an opportunity at immediate playing time and save them 6.2 million dollars. Iloka was in the third year of a six-year, $36-million deal signed in the 2016 offseason.
This move appears to be a bit of a head scratcher on the surface – Iloka has been steady (if unspectacular) during his reign as a starter aftering being selected with a fifth-round pick out of Boise State. He has averaged roughly 0.34 wins above replacement the last five years, never generating fewer than 0.26 (2016) and never more than 0.53 (2014). He’s been reliable in terms of availability as well, playing more than 715 snaps each of those seasons, and eclipsing 988 snaps in four of those five years. While coverage grades paint a somewhat-incomplete picture for deep safeties, he’s surrendered fewer touchdowns (seven) into his coverage than he has interceptions (nine), and passers earned only a 68.4 rating throwing at him a season ago.