After failing miserably to protect Joe Burrow last year, the Cincinnati Bengals are primed to sign several offensive linemen ahead of the 2021 season.
While big-name guys like Joe Thuney are the dream targets, the Bengals will likely sign a cheaper veteran or two to revamp what’s been one of the NFL’s worst offensive lines since 2017.
One intriguing name set to hit the market is Gabe Jackson, who is being cut by the Las Vegas Raiders, per ESPN reporter Josina Anderson. He’ll now be one of the better guards to hit free agency this year, which should make him someone the Bengals at the very least kick the tires on.
By cutting Jackson, who had two seasons remaining on the five-year, $56 million extension he signed with the Raiders back in 2017, the team will save $9.6 million against the cap. He started every game at right guard last season and finished with a 63.7 Pro Football Focus grade, which would have been the highest of any Bengals starting guard.
It wasn’t that long ago when Jackson was one of the best guards in the NFL, as he finished the 2018 season with a 73.7 PFF grade. Though he probably wouldn’t be a game-changing signing, Jackson would still probably be a nice upgrade over Michael Jordan, Billy Price, Alex Redmond and/or Xavier Su’a-Filo at either guard spot.
Another Vegas lineman who could be of interest to the Bengals is right tackle Trent Brown. Per NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport, the Raiders have discussed trading Brown. General manager Mike Mayock has already said the “jury is still out” on Brown remaining with the team, so it certainly appears he’s up for grabs if a team like the Bengals are willing to make a trade.
The Raiders have already paid in full the $36.25 million guaranteed portion of Brown’s four-year, $66-million contract, which means they or whoever trades for Brown can walk away from him without any dead cap. That makes him even more attractive for a team like the Bengals, assuming it wouldn’t take a lot of draft capital to trade for him.
The problem with Brown is his health, as he’s missed 16 games over the last two seasons due to injuries and COVID-19. He still finished last season with a 68.9 PFF grade and a 69.1 grade in 2019, so he’d be an upgrade over embattled right tackle Bobby Hart.
Brown is still fairly young at 27 years old (turns 28 next month), while Jackson turns 30 in July. Getting either guy would help the Bengals protect Burrow better next season. Getting both could be the revamp this unit desperately needs.
Should the Bengals pursue either of these guys? Let us know in the comments section!