Kirkpatrick's deal is for four years with a fifth-year option and is worth $8.6 million, a source with knowledge of the situation told NFL Network and NFL.com reporter Ian Rapoport.
One detail of Kirkpatrick's contract to keep an eye on is the guaranteed amount. New England Patriots offensive tackle Nate Solder was the No. 17 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft signed a four-year contract worth $8.54 million. Unlike the Top 16 picks, who had their entire contracts guaranteed, Solder's guarantee stopped at $7.77 million.
"Dre was the tallest (6-foot-2) of the top corners in the draft, and with all the big receivers in the league right now, we see that as an extra advantage for us," Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "He does a great job at the line of scrimmage. He's been coached hard with a national championship team, so we really like his pedigree."
Kirkpatrick was a two-year starter at Alabama, intercepting three passes, but none in 2011 as teams rarely threw in his direction. At 6-foot-2 and 186 pounds, Kirkpatrick has the size, length and aggressive demeanor to be a shutdown corner in the NFL. With Bengals cornerback Leon Hall coming off a torn Achilles, Kirkpatrick should get a chance to start right away.
With Kirkpatrick signing, nine of the 32 picks in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft have signed contracts.