The Bengals appeared as bystanders for most of Monday as unrestricted free agency began to be tampered with. They were able to reach an agreement with defensive end Trey Hendrickson late last night, but the position they need to attack more than any other, offensive line, has been getting picked at pretty consistently early on.
One name many fans were excited about was former Bengal guard Kevin Zeitler becoming available after he was a cap casualty for the New York Giants. However, he and the Baltimore Ravens quickly came to agreement early Monday morning. It turns out that wasn’t from a lack of trying on Cincinnati’s part.
The #Bengals did attempt to bring back guard Kevin Zeitler, but their offer wasn't near Baltimore's three-year deal worth $22 million, including $16 million fully guaranteed, per sources.— Tyler Dragon (@TheTylerDragon) March 15, 2021
It sounds like the Bengals didn’t want to possibly over pay early on for a guard who may end up being only slightly better than a player than can pick up in the coming days via free agency.
It may be very frustrating for Bengals fans to watch this play out before free agency has officially begun (as far as the NFL office is concerned). However, even last year the team waited until the second day to start making moves. The reality is that there are still plenty of veteran offensive line options out there for the team to add. It remains to be seen which offensive linemen the team is actually talking to as this is the first we have really heard of them actually making an offer to a player up to this point.
Cincinnati’s front office and coaches have been vocal about improving the state of the offensive line this offseason, but so far fans have watched the big names get scooped up early. The team certainly would’ve benefited from bringing in any of those players, but the offseason is far from over at this point, and they could still add several veterans. They have more room to do that without committing a ton of money to one big name.
Patience can only be preached for so long, and this franchise hasn’t earned too much benefit of the doubt the past couple of seasons, and they didn’t do themselves any favors betting on a bad offensive line to get better after drafting the future of the franchise. The result predictably ended with Joe Burrow suffering a serious injury.
The fact remains that Cincinnati has to add some veterans to their offensive line, and then use some of their higher draft picks to also improve it as well. Fans haven’t seen much proof that they are doing that, but missing out on a player that many fans were excited about isn’t reason to call it a failure already.