The Bengals signed Kent Perkins as an undrafted free agent following the 2017 NFL Draft to help shore up the offensive line. Although he has quite an uphill battle ahead of him, the Bengals didn’t invest in the offensive line as much as many thought they might in this year’s draft.
The only selection for the unit was fifth round pick J.J. Dielman, who is primarily seen as a center. Despite the Bengals losing starting left tackle Andrew Whitworth in free agency, they made no moves at Perkins’ position in the draft and invested very little in the position in free agency.
The Bengals did bring back Andre Smith from a stint in Minnesota to shore up the offensive line depth, but if he makes any impact as a tackle, it is expected to be in a backup or reserve role. That leaves a bit of a crack for a player like Perkins to squeeze his way onto the roster, despite otherwise insurmountable odds.
Perkins will certainly give his push for the roster everything he has, but is that going to be enough?
Weight: 311 pounds
Position: Offensive tackle
Perkins is under contract with the Bengals through 2019, although none of his salary is guaranteed. Therefore, the Bengals can release him at any time without penalty. If he makes the roster in 2017, he will make up to $465,000, which accounts for the entirety of his cap hit, per Spotrac.
Perkins played four seasons as a right guard and right tackle with the Texas Longhorns. In his freshman year, where he primarily contributed as a reserve lineman. But, by his sophomore season, he was a consistent starter for a Longhorns offense that helped D’Onta Foreman develop into one of college football’s top running back prospects for the 2017 NFL Draft.
For most of his career, Perkins served as a right guard (10 starts in 2014, two starts in 2015, 10 starts in 2016). However, he also contributed at right tackle from time to time (three starts in 2014, eight starts in 2015). When he first signed with the Bengals, it was generally thought he could potentially make a push for an open guard spot. But, with the development of Christian Westerman and Trey Hopkins, it could be nearly impossible for him to make the roster that way.
For that reason, it is easy to understand why the Bengals list him as an offensive tackle. His experience at the position is more valuable than his experience at guard, simply because the Bengals need more help at an offensive tackle position with far more moving parts than offensive guard.
In theory, if Westerman or Hopkins can continue to impress enough to earn the starting right guard job, the Bengals can move Andre Smith back outside and potentially part ways with Eric Winston, which frees up some space for Perkins. Winston was once a reliable veteran who does a good job of filling in at right tackle when the Bengals need him the most. But, he is also going to be 34 in November, and his play has dropped off dramatically this year.
Therefore, if Perkins can play up to the potential the Bengals saw in him when they decided to give him a college free agent contract, there could be a sliver of a chance the Bengals consider him for a roster spot. After all, he earned enough respect from the coaches throughout training camp to receive the fifth most snaps of any player in the Bengals’ Week 1 preseason game (35), so there has to be something there. However, his best chances of developing with the Bengals right now seem to be on the practice squad.
Roster odds: 2%