McKinley was waived by the Atlanta Falcons on Tuesday after he called out the team for failing to trade him at the deadline.
The Bengals suddenly found themselves with a void at defensive end when the situation between the coaching staff and veteran Carlos Dunlap became untenable. Cincinnati opted to trade Dunlap to the Seattle Seahawks for offensive lineman B.J. Finney and a 2021 seventh-round pick. McKinley was in a nearly identical situation with the Falcons before they ultimately cut him.
We’ve acquired DE @Takk McKinley on waivers from the Atlanta Falcons.
— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) November 11, 2020
McKinley had expressed his desire to be traded before the deadline, and he took to Twitter last week to say the Falcons turned down fifth- and sixth-round draft-pick offers from multiple teams despite his request.
The four-year veteran also said he requested a trade last year but Atlanta turned down a second-round pick offer for him. For extra measure, he included clown emojis in his tweet.
Falcons interim coach Raheem Morris then said McKinley would be held accountable for criticizing the team on social media.
McKinley could bolster a defensive line that has struggled to consistently pressure opposing quarterbacks. The Bengals are ranked 29th in the NFL in pass rush win rate, an ESPN metric powered by Next Gen Stats, and 25th in the league in total sacks (11).
Cincinnati traditionally relied on Dunlap and defensive tackle Geno Atkins to be its primary pass-rushers. But with Dunlap’s rift and injuries to Atkins and defensive end Sam Hubbard, Cincinnati has relied on Carl Lawson, who has been the team’s most disruptive pass-rusher. Lawson is the only Bengals player ranked in the top 70 in individual pass rush win rate, according to ESPN Stats and Information.
McKinley, a 2017 first-round pick, has been disappointing, totaling only 17.5 sacks in 49 career games.
McKinley, 25, was sidelined the past two games because of a groin injury and illness. He has played just 81 snaps and has only one sack in four games this season.
The Falcons had earlier declined to pick up McKinley’s fifth-year option, worth $10.3 million.
ESPN’s Ben Baby and Turron Davenport contributed to this report.