Long before Carlos Dunlap became the prime trade piece for the Cincinnati Bengals, Billy Price had a good argument for that distinction.
The first-round pick from the 2018 NFL Draft has been a backup for the better part of two seasons now and only sees the field when injuries require him to be on it. Price’s experience at multiple positions and in the Bengals’ system has its value, but that intangible worth doesn’t equate to how much the Bengals are still paying him.
No matter the logic, arguing for the Bengals to make a trade during the season was always a moot discussion since it had only happened once in the last 35 years; and that was because the player they traded away threatened to retire if they didn’t give in to his demands.
Needless to say, Dunlap actually getting traded was surprising enough for most Bengals fans. The market for Dunlap was never going to be as lucrative as it ended up becoming for Carson Palmer back in 2012, when they received a first and second-round pick from Hue Jackson’s Raiders. A late-round draft pick was the expected compensation after the Detroit Lions acquired Everson Griffen for just a sixth-round pick the day prior to the Dunlap trade, so a market had been established.
No one really expected the Bengals to receive a player in return, especially not one that can help them out a position of weakness.
Thanks to the Seattle Seahawks, the newest Bengal is B.J. Finney, a reserve offensive lineman with over 1,000 career snaps from playing all three interior positions in four seasons played. Finney earned a two-year deal with the Seahawks this offseason after proving his worth with the Pittsburgh Steelers as a spot starter. He signed with Seattle with the intent of starting at center for them, but he never saw the field after Ethan Pocic surprisingly beat him out of the starting job.
Finney will now go from an above average offensive line to one that’s still finding its feet. If there’s a team he can make a positive impact with, it’s this one. His immediate value will be as a viable second option at the center position while Trey Hopkins recovers from a concussion. Price still has the starting job locked down with Hopkins out, but when Hopkins returns, Quinton Spain inevitably enters the fray, and Xavier Su’a-Filo comes back from his injury, the position group will become quite crowded.
This is the opportunity to part ways with Price and get something in return.
Price is set to start for the 11th time in his career at center this Sunday, and he will give the 31 other teams more fresh tape of him at the position he was drafted to play. If he plays like he did last Sunday, some of those 31 franchises could become interested. The Bengals will then enter their bye week and Hopkins will have enough time to pass the concussion protocol. The addition of Finney now gives them two players they can feel confident playing at center, and when Sunday’s game is through, they’ll have two days until the trade deadline.
Moving Price for a draft pick of any kind should’ve been the goal for the front office for the past year. Now, they can feel free to do so without meddling with any issues on the depth chart. That’s the luxury they’ve now gained with Finney.
A market still has to exist for Price, of course, but the Bengals should feel more aggressive to push for one and to pounce on any they find. Doing so would only further verify that they’re committed to improving the team in the long-run and are set on re-working the offensive line for the better.
Maybe one in-season trade is all we could ever expect from the Bengals, but their sudden progressiveness has now opened the door for more activity.