By Joe Kay
AP Sports Writer
CINCINNATI — The Bengals signed versatile linebacker Karlos Dansby to a one-year deal on 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 Cleveland 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 multiyear deals were cornerback Adam “Pacman” 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 win. Brown was sidelined with a concussion as a result of the hit.
Cincinnati has 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 head 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.
“I just want to surround myself with a lot of talent one time and see how it will pan out. I think it will pan out great.”
Dansby was Arizona’s second-round pick in 2004 and played six years for the Cardinals. He was in Miami for three years, returned to Arizona for a year, and then went to Cleveland for the last two. He 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, very dynamic,” he said. “It will pose some problems for a lot of teams.”