The Bengals may be out of money for big-time free agency deals.
That’s bad news overall but good news if you were hoping the team would move on from lackluster center Russell Bodine. From what’s being written on Bengals.com, it sounds like the team won’t be pursuing Bodine any longer, despite saying many times prior to free agency that they’d like to get him back in the fold.
Geoff Hobson has written that while the Bengals may sign some low-key veterans, there will be no more “major pacts” in free agency. This comes after the only moves the Bengals made were trading for left tackle Cordy Glenn, re-signing punter Kevin Huber and re-signing tight end Tyler Eifert.
They’ll probably do some minimum veteran deals, but if the Bengals did reach a deal with center Russell Bodine, their starter for the last four seasons, they’d probably release somebody else and they’re not usually keen on doing that.
The Bengals drafted Bodine in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft and he immediately became the team’s starting center. He’s had an up-and-down career, but mostly down. Pro Football Focus has graded Bodine with a 52.8, 46.1, 70.5 and 46.8 in each of the last four years respectively. All but his 2016 grade were poor; his 2016 grade was “average”. These grades are out of 100, for perspective.
Bodine has simply been pushed over far too often and has brought down the entire offensive line as a result. The Bengals need a better center to help not only at that position, but to help the line to protect Andy Dalton. The good news is there are plenty of highly talented centers in the draft who the Bengals could explore.
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James Daniels and Billy Price are two of the options who the Bengals could consider and there are guards who have the potential to move to center who may be in the mix as well. That’s just at the top of the draft. There are options throughout who the Bengals could pick up and insert into the lineup. With 11 draft picks, the Bengals could even draft two centers or a center and a guard with the potential to play center and have them compete for the starting job. The Bengals also still have backup center T.J. Johnson on the roster, too.
Moving on from Bodine would be a smart move for the Bengals who badly need an upgrade at the position. As he hits free agency, this is the time to do it. The Bengals could better spend any remaining money budgeted for free agency on the linebacker position where another starting-caliber player is needed. Bodine hasn’t proven to be a starting-caliber player for the Bengals and is replaceable.