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Fortifying a position that represented one of their biggest needs, the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday signed unrestricted free-agent defensive tackle Sam Adams, who played the past three seasons with the Buffalo Bills, to a three-year contract.
Financial details of the contract were disclosed, but sources told ESPN.com on Thursday that Adams can make about $4 million in 2006 if he reaches certain playing time and performance levels.
"We're excited to have Sam join the Bengals," head coach Marvin Lewis said. "His abilities, both physically and mentally, will upgrade our defensive unit."
A three-time Pro Bowl performer and the kind of "anchor" tackle who occupies blockers and allows the linebackers to flow to the football, Adams should represent a major addition for a Cincinnati defense that statistically ranked No. 20 against the rush in 2005. The Bengals have been looking for a wide-body tackle in free agency the last several years but were never able to sign one.
Under Lewis, the Bengals have surprisingly struggled against the run, finishing 25th in 2003 and 26th in 2004 against the ground game. The presence of Adams, long regarded as one of the NFL's premier inside defenders, should certainly help address that shortcoming. Adams was the No. 24 player overall in the ESPN.com free-agent rankings.
Adams, 32, will probably team with John Thornton in the starting lineup. That would leave veteran Bryan Robinson and promising youngster Shaun Smith in reserve and give the Bengals one of the deepest and best tackle rotations in the league.
A key for the Bengals will be to maximize Adams' effectiveness by limiting the number of snaps he plays. That should not be a problem, given that Lewis was the defensive coordinator in Baltimore when Adams helped the Ravens win Super Bowl XXXV in 2000.
The Bengals will be Adams' fifth team, as he previously played with Seattle (1994-99), Baltimore (2000-01), Oakland (2002) and Buffalo (2003-05). The former Texas A&M star has 375 tackles, 42 sacks, six forced fumbles, five recoveries, three interceptions and 32 pass deflections in 179 games.
His abilities against the run aside, Adams has demonstrated the ability to compress the pocket from the inside during his career. As recently as 2004, he registered five sacks, but the Bengals will rely on him primarily to clog the middle.
Also Monday, the Bengals signed 6-foot-6, 320-pound offensive lineman Scott Kooistra, a restricted free agent, to a one-year contract. Kooistra is a three-year veteran who played 15 games last season for Cincinnati, starting one.
Financial terms of Kooistra's deal were not disclosed.
Information from ESPN.com senior writer Len Pasquarelli and SportsTicker was used in this report.