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Bobbie Williams and the Bengals are in a "holding pattern"

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Remember back in the day when the Bengals sported one of the league's best offensive lines nearly five years ago? Good lord, it's been that long? Yep. Eric Steinbach was dynamic, versatile and stable. His loss to free agency was noticed. In response, the team moved Andrew Whitworth out of his natural tackle position to left guard, allowing aging veteran Levi Jones to man left tackle while Rich Braham hung up his cleats after a career-ending injury in 2006. The line quickly dissolved. And the team struggled to rebound, evident by a combined 11-20-1 record between 2007 and 2008.

Through all of the changes, veteran Bobbie Williams remained as the team's starting right guard since signing with Cincinnati in 2004, starting 93 of a possible 96 games. He's a steady rock, a vocal leader and a very good guard. Some have claimed that his production has dropped and many would prefer quicker smaller guards that would open the play book slightly.

Pro Football Focus suggests otherwise. The website ranks Williams as the league's fifth best guard in 2009, especially strong as a run blocker. He did allow three sacks (Alan Faneca led the league with six allowed by a guard), 11 quarterback pressures and an additional hit. All of which are not close to ranking as the highest at his position.

For the past week, negotiations between Williams and the Bengals have hit a holding pattern, writes Joe Reedy.

A report surfaced out of Dayton two days ago that the Bengals were close to re-signing right guard Bobbie Williams. According to Williams agent, Tony Agnone, the two sides are at the same point where they were last week — in a holding pattern.

Agnone said that he remains hopeful that both sides can come to an agreement but they continue to test the waters with other teams. In checking with others around the league, three teams have expressed interest about Williams but that one of them is a Final Eight squad that has not lost anyone yet.

The report that Reedy is talking about was written by Carlos Holmes earlier in the week. He wrote that according "to a source with knowledge of the situation, the Cincinnati Bengals are close to a deal with offensive guard Bobbie Williams."

Another report suggested that the Bengals will be able to sign Williams based on what they do at wide receiver. The thinking was that a long-term deal with Antonio Bryant would make it harder for the team to sign guys like Bobbie Williams or Reggie Kelly. Bryant signed and now we're in a holding pattern.

If the Bengals can't land Williams, then they could move beyond their "interest" phase with Houston Texans guard Chester Pitts, who is scheduled to visit with the San Francisco 49ers next week.