The Cincinnati Bengals’ depth at the offensive tackle positions is extremely lacking. Everyone knows it.
It’s the weakest spot on the team with third year players Cedric Ogbuehi expected to start at left tackle and Jake Fisher at right tackle. Behind them are a combination of players past their prime and just getting started.
Just yesterday, we wrote about how the Bengals may consider some options via free agency, a trade, or after cutdown day at the position to add some much-needed depth to an area fans are highly concerned about heading into the season.
Enter Branden Albert.
After being traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars from the Miami Dolphins in March (in exchange for a seventh round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft), Albert skipped voluntary offseason workouts while trying to get a new deal from the Jaguars. He’s currently owed $8,875,000 this season, the final year of his deal.
He didn’t get a new deal from Jacksonville and so he ended up reporting to minicamp and training camp. Then, four days into camp, he decided to retire from the National Football League... allegedly. Then, less than two weeks later, he announced his decision to unretire.
Jacksonville didn’t take kindly to it and the team has now placed him on the Reserve/Retired list, regardless of what he wants.
The #Jaguars be placing LT Branden Albert on the reserve/retired list. He was previously on the "left team" list.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 8, 2017
Albert, a two-time Pro Bowler, was selected by the Chiefs in the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft and spent the first six seasons of his career in Kansas City. In 2014, he signed with the Dolphins, where he spent the last two years prior to getting traded to the Jaguars. Injuries have been a concern for Albert who started 12 games last season and 14 in 2015 but has not played a full 16 game season since 2011, and that was the only year in which he managed to play all 16 games in his 10 year NFL career.
In 2016, Albert dislocated his left wrist in Week 10, and since 2013 he has also dealt with varying knee issues (including tearing his right ACL and MCL in 2014), as well as a hamstring injury in 2015. As far as his play goes, in 2016 Pro Football Focus ranked him as the league’s 64th best offensive tackle and gave him a 49 overall grade, which is categorized as poor. Comparatively, Ogbuehi was ranked as the 68th best tackle with a grade of 44.2 and Jake Fisher had a 47.8 grade, but did not play enough to be ranked. Bengals backups Eric Winston had a 63.3 grade last year, while Andre Smith (who's expected to play guard, but will also likely be a backup tackle for the Bengals this year) had a 42.3 grade after just four games played.
When Albert announced his retirement less than two weeks ago, it was revealed he’d need to pay back the Jaguars $3.4 million in signing bonus money. But when he attempted to un-retire, saying he allegedly wanted to re-join the Jaguars, he wouldn’t have had to do that.
We spoke with our friends at Big Cat Country, SB Nation’s Jaguars blog, to get their feel of the situation with Albert and where he stands with the team.
I think the Jaguars would love for a team to give something up to take the Branden Albert situation off their hands, as it appears they got masterfully played by Albert's agent. I don't know what he has left in the tank, as he skipped all of the voluntary workouts and didn't appear to be in playing shape during mandatory minicamp. By all accounts he was mediocre at best during his first padded practice in training camp and then promptly retired before the next practice.
Prior to the retirement, the general feeling was Albert would be the team's starting left tackle until Cam Robinson was ready to take over. I do know Albert played guard in college, but I think in the NFL he has been strictly a left tackle, though he has expressed he'd be willing to play guard if he was compensated properly.
Personally I think the un-retirement is a way for Albert to get out of paying back the $3.4 million bonus the team can go after and collect. By forcing the Jaguars to either take him back, he can either get his full salary being on the roster Week 1, or force the team to out right release him and let him sign anywhere and he's off the hook for that $3.4 million.
Personally I don't think he wanted to be here unless he got a new deal with some guaranteed money. I don't think he's a locker room issue really, just his agent trying to finesse getting released.
So, while he’s currently on the Reserve/Retired list, the Jaguars could remove him from that list if a team, like the Bengals, wanted to trade for him. But for now, the Jaguars have his rights.
What does this mean for LT Branden Albert? If he really wants to play, he can easily do it but only for the #Jaguars. They keep his rights— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 8, 2017
My guess is, at that point, they could trade him.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 8, 2017
Albert could come to Cincinnati, not to start, but to be a depth option behind two questionable starters who have the potential to hold the Bengals back if they play as poorly as they did in 2016.
Would you want to see the Bengals try to trade for Albert and use him as a backup in case something (poor play or injuries) happens to Ogbuehi or Fisher? The Bengals have already made a trade with the Jaguars this offseason, acquiring defensive end Chris Smith for a conditional draft pick next year. Could the front office do some more work to get Albert in the fold in Cincinnati? He has a big cap hit, but if the Bengals aren’t going to work out a long-term deal for Vontaze Burfict or Tyler Eifert before the start of the season, there is money to be spent.
Should the Bengals trade for Branden Albert?
This poll is closed
Yes! The Bengals need more depth at OT.
No, he’s not worth it.
Maybe, if the trade compensation is low.