The season was a culmination of proving to the entire world that this Bengals team has been constructed to compete with the best of the best in the NFL. However, in the biggest game of the year, we all saw the offensive line comeback to bite them yet again, This has left many fans begging the franchise to go out and fix this issue that has been consistent since the 2016 season.
Bengals owner Mike Brown gave some hope we could see just that this offseason during the rally for the team this week. At least in a vague way of saying that they see a problem that needs fixed.
“Joe is a smart player and that shines through,” Brown told Bengals.com. “He’s accurate, he’s tough as nails. We want to do some things to help him... This team has what (Paul Brown) prized most. The ability to throw the ball.”
“I think we have the core of a top team, we’ll add to it and I think we can make it better.”
No team is really going into free agency broadcasting their exact needs to the world, and you won’t here Brown or any of the coaches directly call out the offensive line, but this is as close as it gets to saying they are going to go get protection for Joe Burrow.
Burrow was sacked 70 times throughout the course of the 2021 season. That simply can’t be a trend that continues. It also puts into perspective just how good Burrow is to have such a great season while dealing with less than ideal protection.
Many national outlets have questioned whether the Bengals will be willing to front the bill of getting that protection for one of the bright young stars. Cincinnati had developed a reputation of not being active in free agency for a very long time, but that narrative just has not been true.
To see that, you just have to look at the defensive unit that led this team to the Super Bowl. Most of that unit has been put together the past two offseasons via free agency. They added players like D.J. Reader, Trae Waynes and Vonn Bell first, then followed it up this past offseason by bringing in Trey Hendrickson, Larry Ogunjobi, Mike Hilton, Chidobe Awuzie and Eli Apple.
It seems Cincinnati is more than willing to wait out the very top free agent rush, which often includes the most guaranteed money being thrown around. But they have been very active in that second wave where they find their ideal guys. They have been adding players entering or still in their prime. They rarely add those players on the other side of 30. This leads to far more bang for their buck in the long run. In this case it will probably result in more starters coming in than one great player being brought in.
Hopefully, this team does enough with the offensive line in free agency to fill some major holes. They need more veteran presence that will be ready to play against the best the league has to offer and not players who need a few years to develop. It would also be nice to draft the best available player come draft time rather than cornered into a need.
Fans can’t help but be worried since there is quite a bit still unknown. Until we start seeing rumors of interest from teams in free agents, all we can do is speculate. It looks like Brown is committed to getting the most out of this window of a Super Bowl that he can.