One of my biggest points about the slow degradation of the offensive line since 2005 is that once Eric Steinbach left, everything went downhill. Before the 2007 season, the Bengals signed Willie Anderson and Levi Jones to long-term deals in an indirect message to Steinbach's camp that he's not going to return to Cincinnati. Anderson was released a year later and this off-season Levi Jones' agent was reportedly told that his client would either be traded or released. This was also an example of bad front office management.
Steinbach signed a seven-year deal worth $49.5 million with $17 million guaranteed with the Browns during the 2007 free agency period.
In Chick Ludwig's latest post, he writes that Steinbach could be in "deep trouble."
And my sources in Cleveland tell me that Eric Steinbach is in deep trouble. Eric Mangini likes big, bruising maulers on the offensive line.
Steinbach doesn’t fit the mold. He’s more finesse. I look for Steinbach to get released after the 2009 season. If fact, with his fat contract, he’ll be fortunate to make the 53-man roster. Don’t be shocked if he gets terminated before the ‘09 opener.
So the obvious question now is, if Steinbach is released, do the Bengals make an effort to bring back their 2003 second-round draft pick? Bobbie Williams will be a free agent after this season and there's still the possibility that Andrew Whitworth slides out to left tackle this season. I should point out that Ludwig is the only one bringing this up, so it could very well be a case of a bad source.