Is this the year the Cincinnati Bengals upgrade the center position?
The odds are against it, especially since the team has been adamant about re-signing Russell Bodine.
Still, we can dream, right?
ESPN thinks so. They outlined the impending free agent that every NFL team needs to sign, and for the Bengals, it’s one of the top centers on the market in Weston Richburg.
But if they can’t get Richburg, ESPN gave Cincinnati a possible backup signing that would probably still be a big upgrade over Bodine.
Cincinnati Bengals: C Weston Richburg
2017 team: New York Giants
Age heading into 2018 season: 27
If the Bengals are looking to improve their offensive line in 2018, they could do a lot worse than adding Richburg. A second-round draft pick in 2014, Richburg missed all but the first four games of the 2017 season but was one of the NFL’s best pass-blocking centers in 2015 and 2016. In those two seasons combined, he allowed just two sacks, two hits and 19 hurries on 1,319 pass-blocking snaps.
Backup signing: C Ryan Jensen, Baltimore Ravens
If they can’t add Richburg, they could weaken a division rival by adding Jensen. His pass-blocking efficiency rating of 98.4 ranks third among available centers.
The Bengals can probably get Richburg to a manageable deal if they want him. While one of the game’s better centers when healthy, Richburg had a major concussion that held him out of most of last year. That injury will scare a lot of teams off, so the Bengals may be able to get him on a bargain deal.
What makes Richburg even more attractive is he started at guard early in his career, so he’d probably be an upgrade at right guard if the Bengals want.
Ryan Jensen is actually a similar player, in that he’s being coveted as a center but has extensive experience at guard. The Bengals have seen him up close when they face the Ravens every year, so they probably have a good idea of how much of an upgrade he could be.