Here are two things we think we know. First: the Cincinnati Bengals seem content to keep things the way they are on the offensive line. Second: if they get an opportunity to acquire a true upgrade at a position, they’re at least going to consider it.
The second point seems to qualify them for trading for a proven player at right guard. As it happens, one of those is available for trade.
NFL insider Mike Silver reported Thursday night that Las Vegas Raiders have been trying to trade right guard Gabe Jackson for weeks. And the longer he’s been available, the lower the price has stayed.
The Raiders have shopped starting guard Gabe Jackson in recent weeks... according to several GMs. The asking price is not high.— Michael Silver (@MikeSilver) April 23, 2020
Jackson trade rumors first emerged at the onset of free agency, and they’ve apparently been persisting all this time.
With three years left on his contract, Jackson is counting for $9,600,000 against the Raiders’ salary cap this year. The intriguing aspect is that he has no guaranteed money left on his deal, which was the main perk of Cordy Glenn’s deal when the Bengals traded for him two years ago.
The Bengals could not out-right pay for Jackson as it stands now. They’ve only about $8M in cap space after an adventurous free agency period that saw Andy Dalton remain with the team for the time being. Unloading Dalton’s $17m cap hit via a release or trade seems to be a roadblock for a trade of this caliber, but if they really wanted to do it, nothing is stopping them.
Jackson would be relatively expensive to what they’re paying their guards now, but it’s fair to say he has a few years of starting-caliber play left in him. At just 28 years of age, Jackson has six years of starting experience, all of them featuring a Pro Football Focus pass-blocking grade of 75 or higher. His durability might be the reason his market isn’t so hot. He missed the first six weeks of the 2019 season due to an MCL injury and played through most of the 2018 season with a torn pectoral.
Injury history notwithstanding, Jackson would still cost at least one draft pick and the Bengals only have six left in the NFL Draft. It’s hard to see them finishing the weekend with less than seven picks. Perhaps if they traded down sometime in next few round, they’d be more willing to part ways with a late-round pick to take a gamble on Jackson.
Don’t expect the Bengals to sacrifice the few draft picks they have remaining when they rarely even end a draft with seven picks or less. But if the price is right, Jackson does make sense for the Bengals to at least make a call to Raiders’ general manager Mike Mayock.