The Cincinnati Bengals will rely heavily on Clint Boling to lead the offensive line in 2017.
Not only does Boling have his roster spot secured, but his role on this team will be as important as it’s ever been now that he’s the longest tenured lineman on the team. Boling had a down season in 2016, but it was hardly his fault as he was playing through an injury suffered in Week 4. In 2017 he’ll be healthy and ready to rock as the Bengals’ offensive line looks to surpass expectations and prove the team’s doubters wrong.
Weight: 305 pounds
Hometown: Alpharetta, GA
Experience: 7th-year player in 2017
Draft Status: Fourth round pick in 2011
For the 2017 season, Boling will earn a base salary of $4,050,000, a roster bonus of $200,000 and a workout bonus of $200,000. He will have a cap hit of $4,950,000. If released, the Bengals will be on the hook for a dead cap hit of $1,500,000, according to Spotrac.
Boling has been one of the Bengals’ most consistent offensive lineman during his six seasons with the team. Originally drafted in the fourth round out of Georgia in the 2011 NFL Draft, Boling was part of one of the best draft classes in franchise history, which also included A.J. Green and Andy Dalton. While Boling hasn't gotten nearly as much attention as those two, he has become a quality NFL guard.
Boling’s last healthy season came in 2015, when he started all 16 games for the third time in his four seasons as a full-time starter. He finished as Pro Football Focus' 21st-ranked guard and was part of an offense that was among the NFL's best before Dalton's thumb injury.
However, Boling battled through a shoulder injury for most of the 2016 season, which limited his effectiveness. He separated his shoulder in a Week 4 win over the Miami Dolphins, and that shoulder plagued him up until he missed the final two regular-season games.
Boling wound up having surgery on the shoulder in Week 17 of last season and he’s now recovered as practiced during OTAs. That bodes well for his ability to step into a bigger leadership role for this team now that veteran linemen Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler departed during the offseason.
As long as he’s healthy, Boling will be the full-time starter at left guard with no competition. However, with the Bengals’ offensive line in flux, it’s not crazy to think Boling could play another position at some point.
Boling has seen some brief time as the starting right tackle. And he did well, though the Bengals ultimately went with Eric Winston as the right tackle spot when Andre Smith was injured, so Boling could continue to play at a high level at left guard, which is where the team prefers he remains.
There’s no chance Boling is cut, plain and simple. He has too much value to this team, not to mention there’s a very good chance he’s Cincinnati’s best offensive lineman in 2017.
Unless Boling were to be part of some surprising trade, he’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
Odds: 95 percent.