With the start of NFL free agency nearing, two more potential offensive line options just emerged for the Cincinnati Bengals.
The first is Dallas Cowboys offensive tackle La’el Collins, who is garnering trade interest ahead of next week’s start of free agency.
The #Cowboys are having active trade conversations centered around starting OT La'el Collins, sources say. A mainstay since 2015, Collins is due $10M this coming year and there is interest from other teams.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 10, 2022
Since entering the league in 2015, Collins has developed into one of the best tackles in football. He finished the 2021 season with an 82.0 PFF grade, which came after he missed all of 2020 due to a hip injury. He earned an 86.4 PFF mark in 2019.
The 28-year-old Collins has spent most of his NFL career at right tackle and would be a tremendous upgrade for the Bengals at a position they have no choice but to upgrade this offseason if they want to keep Joe Burrow upright.
However, Collins figures to have plenty of interest around the NFL, so it may cost a bit much in terms of money and draft picks to get him.
The one thing going in Cincinnati’s favor is current offensive line coach Frank Pollack previously coached Collins in Dallas, so that connection could help make the Bengals more willing to surrender draft capital to get the veteran tackle.
Another o-line option to emerge is offensive guard Rodger Saffold. He was just let go by the Tennessee Titans to save $10 million after the team previously had under $4 million of cap space, per the NFL Network.
Saffold is a bit older at 33, but he’s still playing at a level that would be a nice upgrade for a Bengals team that could be looking to add two new starting guards this offseason. Since 2016, Saffold has had a PFF score of 68.8 or higher, including an 80.7 mark in 2017.
I would put Saffold in the Riley Reiff-type tier of free agents that the Bengals could sign. If healthy, Saffold would upgrade the offensive line but probably isn’t a long-term solution. You also have to worry if he’ll hold up across a 17-game season at his age, something Reiff was unable to do in his one year in Cincinnati.
So while Saffold probably isn’t who the Bengals will target right away, if other options fall through, he could be a nice backup plan.