Bengals fans recently dealt with left guard Clint Boling’s unexpected retirement due to blood clots.
While his loss has left a pretty big hole to fill at left guard, arguably the biggest loss to the offensive line from a depth standpoint was rookie left tackle Jonah Williams. His injury has left the Bengals in a place where they know they will likely need to make a move to add an offensive tackle.
“I’m not sure what we have there. Numbers wise we’re doing with Clint retiring and we haven’t added anyone since so I’m sure we’ll be looking to add somebody at some point,” offensive coordinator Brian Callahan told Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com. “We still need tackles. We need tackles for depth and tackles to compete so that will addressed I’m sure at some point.”
Depth is the biggest issue at the tackle position for Cincinnati. Cordy Glenn moving back out to left tackle is a solid move, but he does have injury concerns. Right tackle Bobby Hart managed to stay healthy all of 2018, but his play was very inconsistent.
You could even say at times that he and offensive guard Alex Redmond were battling for the weakest link on the offensive line last season. The main issue comes with what happens if Glenn or Hart have to miss any sort of time with injuries?
Right now, Kent Perkins, an undrafted free agent from 2017, and Justin Evans are the only two tackles currently on the roster. Neither of which have any extensive experience playing during the regular season. That is a huge issue for any NFL team to be one injury away from relying on an inexperienced tackle to protect your team’s quarterback.
Director of player personnel, Duke Tobin doesn’t appear to be rushing to add to the tackle position. Instead, he appears to be content with waiting for cuts and seeing what players currently on the roster can do.
“We’ll have to find some. Some of the guys have to be able to play multiple positions,” Tobin said. “While they’re having to compete outside, they’ll also have to compete inside. We’re going to have to look and see. As we go through the cut-down process and look at the teams and have discussions, we’ll see what if anything we can add to the group and if we add nothing, somebody in that group has to bubble up.”
It is always nice having a players who can play guard and tackle. Unfortunately, the Bengals already have had to use that guy by moving Glenn back out to left guard. They also lost another player capable of that with Boling retiring (although he was more of an emergency tackle than someone you could have start week after week).
The idea of having another guy who could pull that off is great. It seems like Hopkins would be the best possibility there. Some may point to him seemingly losing the battle for the starting right tackle spot to Hart last offseason as a negative, but we saw him play well at center last season in place of an injured Billy Price.
The possibility exists that someone may have been playing favorites when Hopkins was relegated to backup players like Redmond and Hart last year, and that a new coaching staff could see something in Hopkins that the past coaching staff did not.
John Jerry seems like a complete unknown at tackle after spending a vast majority of his career playing guard. Not to mention he just spent 2018 out of the league, so we really don’t know if a year off helped him at all, yet.
As for Christian Westerman, he has my money on him for the next starting left guard. If he doesn’t win that battle though, it just doesn’t seem like a nice fit to move him to the outside. It isn’t reasonable to rule anything out at this point though.
It is good that the Bengals can at least admit they need more tackle before the season starts, but it would be more reassuring if they were more aggressive about filling the position.
One of the most obvious answers would be to go out and trade for someone like Washington’s Trent Williams, who isn’t reporting for training camp while looking for a new contract as well as being frustrated with the medical staff. That admittedly seems out of the Bengals wheelhouse, but they did trade for Glenn. The fact they would have to likely given Williams a new deal would probably deter such a move by Cincinnati.
This is a problem that won’t go away quickly, and it is slightly frustrating as fans to watch offensive tackle be a consistent problem over the past few seasons for the Bengals. Williams’ injury really put the Bengals at the brink of their depth before training camp. That isn’t a great way to start off a season.