The Bengals this morning announced that tight end Ben Utecht is now theirs.
The NFL informed the Bengals this morning that the Indianapolis Colts decided not to match the Bengals' offer sheet for Utecht, who had been a restricted free agent.
On March 14, the Bengals signed Utecht to a three-year, $9 million offer sheet as a restricted free agent.
Utecht, speaking from by phone from the Twin Cities, told The Enquirer that he already had talked this morning to Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis.
"The emotional roller coaster, the last few weeks, is over," Utecht said. "It's finally good to be graduated and know where I'll be."
Utecht has plans to visit his parents over the Easter weekend and won't be attending the opening of the Bengals offseason strength and conditioning program Monday.
"I was on the Colts' schedule, and they don’t start until March 31,” Utecht said. "Coach Lewis understood."
Indianapolis, which had signed Utecht as a college free agent in 2004 – he was injured and missed all of that season – had extended him a one-year, $927,000 qualifying offer as a restricted free agent.
The tender guaranteed Utecht that one-year salary and gave the Colts seven days to decide whether to match an offer sheet Utecht might sign with another team. The Colts will not receive any draft-pick compensation from the Bengals because Utecht was not a drafted player.
Utecht had 31 receptions for 364 yards (11.7-yard average) and one touchdown in 2007.
Career, he has 71 receptions and an 11.3-yard average with three touchdowns; 41 of his career receptions have resulted in first downs. His goal, Utecht said, was to play in the Bengals offense with quarterback Carson Palmer.
Utecht also visited the Jets. With the Colts, he played behind Dallas Clark.
With the Bengals, Utecht would provide a pass-receiving threat at tight end, complementing blocking-oriented starter Reggie Kelly.
The Bengals have two other tight ends under contract, Daniel Coats and Nate Lawrie.