Cincinnati — The Bengals signed versatile linebacker Karlos Dansby to a one-year deal Wednesday, bringing in someone who can help them get through Vontaze Burfict’s suspension for the first three games next season.
The 34-year-old linebacker played for the intrastate rival Browns the last two seasons and led them in tackles. He also had a team-high three interceptions in 2015. Now he’ll be facing them twice a season.
“Naw, it ain’t going to be weird, not at all,” he said on a conference call.
Dansby is the Bengals’ first notable free agent signing from outside the current roster.
The Bengals have spent most of free agency trying to keep their defense intact after it finished second in the NFL in fewest points allowed. Among those re-signed to multi-year deals were cornerback Adam Jones and safety George Iloka.
Dansby has played all three linebacker spots and is known for his ability to cover receivers. He gives the Bengals versatility at linebacker, especially when Burfict is gone. The NFL suspended the middle linebacker for repeatedly violating its player safety rules, including hitting Steelers receiver Antonio Brown in the head during Pittsburgh’s first-round playoff victory.
Brown was sidelined with a concussion as a result of the hit.
The Bengals have reached the playoffs five years in a row but lost its first-round game all five times, an NFL record. The Bengals haven’t won a playoff game in 25 years, the sixth-longest streak of postseason futility in NFL history.
Dansby leaves a Browns team that has been in disarray and has only one winning record in the last 13 years.
Former Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson took over as coach this year.
“I felt I could come here and help us get over that hump,” Dansby said. “I want to be part of something great. These guys are playing great defense. I haven’t been around this much talent in a long time.”
Dansby was Arizona’s second-round pick in 2004 and played six seasons with the Cardinals. He played for the Dolphins for three years before returning to the Cardinals for a year and playing for the Browns the last two.
Dansby started all 16 games for the Browns last season. He was outspoken during free agency about hoping the Bengals would make an offer so he could join their highly ranked defense.
“I think it can be very dynamic,” he said. “It will pose some problems for a lot of teams.”
The Cowboys signed free-agent center Joe Looney to a two-year contract.
... Offensive tackle Jordan Mills signed a qualifying offer to stay with the Bills.
... The Patriots signed free-agent defensive back E.J. Biggers.