When a three-time Pro Bowl guard hits the market, it’s a big deal. But, when a three-time Pro Bowl guard hits the market after almost two months of free agency, it’s a huge deal that deserves immediate attention.
That said, the Saints’ Larry Warford was released by the team last week, saving them about $8 million. Owed $13 million for 2020, Warford’s dead cap hit will be about $5.1 million for the reigning NFC South champs.
Although the Bengals seem set at offensive line, there should be a sliver of hope that they come to an agreement with Warford. As NFL Trade Rumors has it, Warford is looking for around $7 million per year in his next deal.
While they’d have theoretically no money afterward, Warford would be worth emptying the tank for. Xavier Su’a-Filo and Michael Jordan are the projected starting guards with Billy Price backing them up.
The current options aren’t bad, but they’re far from Warford. The 6-foot-3 big man has missed just four games the last three seasons, all with the Saints.
Having made the Pro Bowl the last three seasons as well, bringing Warford in to provide leadership on a young line and continue to bolster a unit aimed at protecting the team’s franchise quarterback is not a bad idea.
Warford was Pro Football Focus’ 11-ranked guard a season ago. After 15 weeks of the 2019 NFL season, they named him the 20th best offensive lineman in the league. The need for a player like that to tag team with the Bengals 2019 first-round pick is high.
After paying rookies, the team should still have well over $7 million in cap space, so using that on a much-needed position like offensive line needs to be a priority. The Bengals have paid to build a competitive roster this season, and Warford could bet he key to building a team that is finally able to rival the best in the AFC North.