The Cincinnati Bengals did something they haven’t done in a long while: They spent money on a starting-caliber offensive lineman, Riley Reiff.
And while that’s a really nice sign, it still doesn’t fix the uncertainty at the team’s biggest weakness: guard.
Michael Jordan was responsible for the disastrous hit on quarterback Joe Burrow. And that wasn’t necessarily an outlier.
Both guard positions were completely inconsistent and unpredictable the entire year. The team rotated guys like Jordan, Xavier Su’a-Filo, Quinton Spain, Alex Redmond and others to varying success.
But the team still needs to show fans that they care to solidify both spots. They technically made an attempt to sign Joe Thuney, but backed out when they realized they’d have to compete with big-boy franchises. The same occurred with Kevin Zeitler, who they weren’t willing to give as much in guaranteed money as the Baltimore Ravens did. (Which is kinda funny considering his entire deal was only for $22 million.)
So what options are left?
John Sheeran and special guest the Zim joined me to explore how they can fix the o-line by targeting some of the remaining players in free agency and day-two Draft prospects. You can watch below:
You can also listen on iTunes or using the player below:
Here I’ll include some of the guys on Zim’s List, meaning, player who will sign for cheap but still serve as upgrades over the current guards on the roster:
Guards still available in free agency
Trai Turner: The former Los Angeles Charger is an interesting case. He was part of a terrible line and had a terrible showing last year as a result. His overall PFF grade was just 34.8. The good news is that, before joining the Chargers, Turner was pretty solid, never dropping below a grade of 67.0 in any of his six seasons with the Carolina Panthers. In short, he’s worth giving a cheap deal, in hopes that Frank Pollack can get him right again.
Fortunately, the team has already been in touch with him, so a deal could be looming.
Btw the Bengals have already been in contact with Trai Turner .— Malik Wright (@Wrightreportt) March 20, 2021
Larry Warford: The former Kentucky Wildcat opted out of the 2020 season, but the last time he took the field (2019) for the New Orleans Saints, he posted some strong showings, earning a 75.8 overall grade from Pro Football Focus, including a 76.6 grade in the run game. Those are right around his career numbers. In other words, he’s not a star, but he’s good enough.
Guards who should be available on day two of the Draft
Samuel Cosmi, Texas: The junior is 6’7” and weighs 309 pounds. While he played tackle for the Longhorns, the Zim sees the relatively lighter prospect as a guard in the pros. While his technique could use work, he has enough athletic ability to make up for it. He’s strong at getting to the second level in the run game and can handle defenders that are trying to bend the corner with his long frame. Still, he could use some more muscle to help prevent getting overpowered.
Wyatt Davis, The Ohio State University: The 6’4”, 315 pounder is athletic with a wide frame. He’s got fluid hips and explosiveness. Davis notably went head-to-head with Alabama’s Christian Barmore with great success in the championship game last January before suffering a leg injury in the second quarter. Of course, he’s not particularly tall (relatively speaking, of course) and could still work on setting his base and finishing blocks.
Develop the guys already on the roster
The reality is that, while the Bengals might try to get some of the guys above, it’s very likely that on opening day at least one of the two guard spots will be filled by Jordan, Su’a-Filo, Spain, or maybe even Price.
That’s just how teams—especially the Bengals—operate. Yes, they promised to fix the line, but they just added Reiff, so technically they did that. Furthermore, they’re probably going to hope that Pollack will be able to get more out of the guys they already have, which is probably true to some degree. We’ll just have to see what happens. But the good news is that they’re looking for solutions, both short term and long term.