You’re worried about Russell Bodine; I’m worried about Russell Bodine, but you know who’s not worried about Russell Bodine? Cincinnati Bengals offensive line coach Paul Alexander.
Alexander has maintained unwavering support for the team’s undisputed starting center and now, Bodine is entering a contract year after three years of subpar production as the team’s starting center.
“I have no worries about Bodine,” Alexander said on Saturday, via Bengals.com. Bodine is entering a contract year and is suddenly among the Bengals’ most experienced offensive linemen.
“I'm not going to give you the standard answer on that,” Alexander said of Bodine’s contract year. “The standard answer is hey, these guys are pros. But the real answer, the contract's the prize. I mean it really is. You're trying to be the best, and what judges the best? A guy who makes money. So I think all the players rise in a contract year. There's nothing wrong with that. It's like a trophy. That's how I really look at it. I think that's good about the pros. A lot of times people complain 'Oh, they make all this money." So what? So does the best researcher at Procter and Gamble. Is he a lousy researcher because he makes the most money? No. He aspires to be great.”
We can only hope Bodine is aspiring to be great and that his coach realizes he needs to perform much better than he has for the last three years. The Bengals have hardly given Bodine real competition for his spot in that span and though the team re-signed T.J. Johnson this offseason and added J.J. Dielman in the draft, neither is considered a real threat to take Bodine’s job this year. Next year is a different story and goes back to Bodine becoming a free agent in March 2018.
Hopefully Bodine is much better than the 28th ranked center in the NFL, as that's what Pro Football Focus ranked him last year. If he remains in that range of below-average centers, the Bengals should not re-sign him next year. It will then be time to see what Johnson and Dielman can do as starters in the NFL.