Bengals sign P Larson, LB Jones

The Bengals signed punter Kyle Larson to a five-year contract and linebacker Dhani Jones to a three-year contract on Tuesday. Both played for Cincinnati in 2007 and had become unrestricted free agents as of Feb. 29.

Larson (6-1, 204) is a fifth-year NFL player. He has been the Bengals' No. 1 punter for all four of his previous seasons, having earned a roster spot in 2004 as a college free agent.

Larson has averaged 42.8 yards on 279 punts for his career, with a net average of 36.3 yards. He has pinned opponents inside their 20-yard line on nearly one-third of his punts (81), and he has allowed only 29 touchbacks. In 2005 at Jacksonville, he launched a team-record 75-yard punt.

Last season, Larson averaged 41.3 yards and 35.2 net, and he had 21 inside-20s against just three touchbacks.

"I set goals at the start of every season, and I want to just keep getting better every year," Larson said. "Cincinnati has been so good to me and my wife; I feel very fortunate to be staying here and getting the chance to keep playing in front of our fans."

Jones (6-1, 240) is a ninth-year NFL player in 2008. He played his first Bengals season in 2007, following four years with the New York Giants and three with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Jones played in all 14 Bengals games following his Sept. 19 signing. He made nine starts at outside linebacker.

He ranked second in the team in tackles (111), tied for the team lead in forced fumbles (two) and tied for the LBs lead in passes defensed (five). He was the only Bengal to log 10 solo tackles in a game last season, and he did that twice.

Jones also had seven special teams tackles and was the special teams captain.

"Dhani did a good job, on and off the field, as a leader," said head coach Marvin Lewis. "He had been a starting player for a long time in the NFL, but he was willing to come in and accept whatever role was given to him. He had a quick 'training camp' for a few games, and soon he was one of our core players."

Larson and Jones are the second and third UFAs to sign with the Bengals in 2008. Yesterday, Cincinnati signed DE Antwan Odom, who played in 2007 for Tennessee. G/T Stacy Andrews, another UFA from the Bengals roster, is unsigned but has been tendered as the team's franchise player.

Two UFAs from the 2007 Bengals, DE Justin Smith and FS Madieu Williams, have signed with other teams.

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