Since free agency opens today, Bengals fans will be listening more attentively as a team building off a surge of momentum from a young team's trip to the playoffs, looks to improve in one of the toughest divisions in the NFL. One way to keep that momentum is to keep your young star quarterback happy, and the best way to do that is to upgrade his protection.
With free agency thinning out already at depth at interior linemen, the Bengals, who have money to spend, could make a splash this offseason and bring in one of the sought after offensive linemen on the market. With free agents Carl Nicks and Ben Grubbs out there, there is no doubt acquiring one of these two players are high on the wishlists of fans and players alike.
While signing one of these guards would be a major upgrade from previous seasons, the talent pool takes a severe dive once these two are taken off the market. With the demand for offensive lineman high this offseason, and not enough talent to fill everyone's needs accordingly, there's a good possibility teams will overspend on linemen in this free agency period.
It's a good year to be a mediocre offensive lineman. It's a ripe possibility that teams will overpay across the line, with little elite talent available and plenty of teams needing help up front. (Many of those teams just happen to be sitting on oodles of cap space, as well.) Besides the two top guards available -- Carl Nicks and Ben Grubbs, who are both young and healthy -- there are some buyer-beware signs with this crop. At tackle, it's pretty thin. Levi Brown is the best available, and Demetrius Bell is well positioned, too. If the Chargers can't get something done with Jared Gaither, I bet he does pretty well out there, too, despite injury issues the past few years.
While the thought of over-paying for a mediocre player may scare some fans, the difference this year is that the Bengals own two first-round picks, and picking up a player such as Cordy Glenn may be their best available move if they can't sign Nicks or Grubbs.