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Just say no to Connor McGovern

Bengals don’t need the Cowboys’ backup

NFL: Washington Football Team at Dallas Cowboys
Connor McGovern
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Teams are interested in trading for Dallas Cowboys’ interior lineman Connor McGovern. The Cincinnati Bengals should not be one of them, and for two reasons.

First and foremost, they don’t need him. McGovern’s primary position is right guard, although he is also capable of sliding over to play left guard.

The 6-5, 308-pound McGovern, who was a third-round selection for the Cowboys in the 2019 NFL Draft, started eight of 14 games for Dallas at right guard last year and earned a grade of 61.7 from Pro Football Focus, despite giving up three sacks. He was only flagged for one penalty. He has been a perennial backup for the Cowboys, and will probably revert back to that role this year.

Manning the right guard position for Cincinnati is Michael Jordan, who completely remade his body during the offseason and is having a solid camp. Consistency continues to be his biggest problem, but offensive line coach Frank Pollack is already ironing out the rough edges.

Jordan’s stats were actually quite similar to McGovern’s. The former Buckeye started 10 games for the Bengals last year, was flagged for just one penalty and give up three sacks. Of course, the one Bengals’ fans remember is the sack that resulted in the season-ending injury to rookie quarterback Joe Burrow. His overall PFF grade was 55.7.

Backing up Jordan at right guard is Xavier Su’a-Filo, a veteran guard who is entering his eighth season out of UCLA. Su’a-Filo was charged with just one penalty and surrendered a sack in 293 snaps last season, and finished with a PFF grade of 59.1.

Second-round pick Jackson Carman of Clemson, who most people had penciled in as the starter at right guard before camp began, got off to a slow start and has been listed as third string. But Carman came on strong in the preseason game against Washington Friday night, and may yet challenge for that starting role before all is said and done.

The starter at left guard looks to be the 6-4, 330-pound Quinton Spain, the seventh-year pro out of West Virginia. Spain finished with a PFF grade of 56.7 after being flagged for four penalties and allowing just one sack a year ago.

Backing up Spain is D’Ante Smith, a fourth-round selection of the Bengals from East Carolina who has shown a ton of promise so far. Smith can play both guard spots as well as left tackle and just continues to get better as time goes on. Depending on the results of Sunday’s outing against the Miami Dolphins, Smith could still play himself into a starting role.

Despite all of the talk about the weakness of the Bengals’ offensive line, Cincinnati has allowed just one sack (on a blown assignment) and four quarterback hits through the first two games of the preseason.

Finally, the team that eventually acquires McGovern will be required to trade a valuable asset in return, either a draft pick or a veteran player. Is it worth sacrificing an established player or dipping into your draft capital for a player who is not much of an upgrade over what you already have? Probably not.