Bengals fans would love to see their favorite team continue improve its offensive line through free agency.
But if it doesn’t, it won’t necessarily be by choice. in terms of free agents, there just are not many good offensive linemen out there to be had — at least not at a price Cincinnati is going to be willing to pay.
While Cordy Glenn fixes the left tackle issue, right guard and right tackle are still a need for this team, but here are not a lot of guards and tackles who would provide an immediate upgrade for Cincinnati, while at the same time fitting into a reasonable budget.
Remember, the Bengals will be looking to extend both Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins this offseason, are hoping to strike a deal with center Russell Bodine and may even make a run at tight end Tyler Eifert, all while lost almost $12 million in cap space with addition of Glenn.
But don’t give up hope. There is one interesting name out there who could be exactly what the doctor ordered, and he will carry a price tag that would make him the perfect fit in Cincinnati.
In 2015, Mewhort started 14 games for the Colts at guard and two at right tackle, and he was a very good run blocker. While he allowed 44 pressures as a pass blocker, he did not allow a single sack. He boasted an overall grade of 84.1 that year, and followed that up with a 79.1 in 2016. It did come with a price, though.
Mewhort suffered what was feared to be a serious knee injury during the preseason of 2016, but he was able to get on the field for the start of the season. He then suffered a triceps injury that forced him to miss some time, and he finally ended up on Injured Reserve with a knee injury that ended his year.
In 2017, Mewhort was back on IR after just five games because of issues with his knee. He has missed 19 games in four seasons, including 17 the past two seasons, and his run blocking has suffered as a result.
Last year, Mewhort was ranked among the top-25 guards in the NFL with a pass-blocking grade of 78.9, but his run-blocking grade of 37.0 was among the worst.
If Mewhort is healthy, he will be a tremendous upgrade on the Bengals’ offensive line and can help provide the kind of protection Andy Dalton has been lacking since the loss of Kevin Zeitler and Andrew Whitworth. Even a hobbled Mewhort is one of the better pass-blocking guards in the league.
Mewhort would be the perfect candidate for the one-year “prove it” deal to see if he can be the same player he was when he came out of Ohio State, and the player he looked to be on his way to multiple Pro Bowl berths.
Last year, Mewhort’s base salary was only $907,337, and he carried a total cap hit of just over $1.1 million. Cincinnati can probably pick him up for something close to the veteran’s minimum of $790,000, and they can load the contract with incentives that would make it a win-win situation for both the player and team.
Under this scenario, the Bengals would have nothing to lose. If Mewhort can stay healthy, and if new offensive line coach Frank Pollack can work a little bit of magic, Cincinnati could conceivably find itself right back in the playoff hunt.