Until the Cincinnati Bengals prove that they have truly fixed their offensive line, it will constantly be put under the microscope. The benefit of the doubt does not exist.
This was also the case last year. After the months of March and April featured minimal effort on their part to improve the o-line, fans and media alike wondered if the club would sign Larry Warford, or trade for Trai Turner. Neither action occurred, nor did anything else to improve a unit that was destined for failure.
It’s safe to say a more noticeable initiative was taken this year to upgrade their personnel. But once more, another option became available after the original plan was executed.
On Thursday, Washington went ahead and released Moses.
Washington is releasing RT Morgan Moses, per source.— Sam Fortier (@Sam4TR) May 20, 2021
Considering the caliber of player Moses is, the news was a bit surprising to hear.
Moses, a third-round pick from the 2014 NFL Draft, has started every game for Washington for the last six seasons. Not only has he had a consistent presence on the field, he’s been consistently good. Only once has he finished a season with a sub-65 Pro Football Focus grade (64.4 in 2018).
On the surface, it doesn’t make much sense as to why Washington would want to rid themselves of Moses. Per ESPN team reporter Jon Keim, getting Moses’ contract off the books would free up cap space for the club to extend defensive tackle Jonathan Allen this offseason. Keim also mentions that the team drafted offensive tackle Samuel Cosmi with intent to play him this year.
Washington also signed left tackle Charles Leno and traded for left guard Ereck Flowers. That leaves just right tackle for Cosmi to play immediately, which is where Moses had been a full-timer since 2015.
The exclusion of Moses in Washington’s plan to re-tool their o-line seemed to be a financial decision more than anything. Moses was set to make about $15 million over the next two years before his contract expired. Now, he may have to settle for much less than that on a one-year deal. And any interested club wouldn’t have to sacrifice draft capital to acquire him now.
That last part was likely the biggest hurdle for the Bengals. Not only would’ve Moses counted for a third of the team’s remaining cap space, they would’ve had to trade a future draft pick for him. No Bengals fan should’ve expected the team to be okay with either stipulation.
Moses, who recently turned 30, could absolutely help the Bengals’ offensive line, and now he can help for a more affordable price. But is that enough to entice them?
On the subject of age, the Bengals’ solution to their right tackle problem became a 32-year old Riley Reiff, who is signed just for the 2021 season. Reiff is on record for saying he’d be comfortable playing anywhere on the line, but the Bengals made it clear he’s here to play right tackle.
A decision to now pursue Moses would indicate an unexpected flexibility to change plans despite nothing detrimental occurring to the original plan.
As far as the Bengals are concerned, they’ll tell you they’re in a good spot. They have Reiff in the fold, they have second-round pick Jackson Carman getting acclimated at right guard, and they have a few veterans ready to compete at left guard. Nothing has happened to make them lose confidence in their plan of attack. Moses being available shouldn’t change how they feel about their current personnel, unless they see Moses as being that good.
For this reason, signing Moses would be ultra-progressive for Cincinnati. If they really do see Moses as a clear upgrade over Reiff, they would be forced to alter their plan and move Reiff to one of the guard spots.
Are they willing to do that after he’s likely been training for the last two months at right tackle? That conversation would have to be had.
This would also take Xavier Su’a-Filo or Quinton Spain out of starting lineup, and while that sounds palatable, we don’t what’s been communicated to each of them by the team up to this point.
This move would change the dynamic in the position room, and that change may not be 100% immediately. The NFL is a business, of course, but that’s just something to think about.
Timing matters with everything. If the Bengals were in a position where they felt they had to get better at right tackle, this move would make all the sense in the world. We may’ve already seen them cross the threshold from interested to content.