Ever since the conclusion of the 2016 season, the Cincinnati Bengals have scrambled to put together a competent offensive line. It’s been a mishmash of high picks (both failures or otherwise), developmental projects and rental players and has led to mixed results, at best.
The Bengals made it to the Super Bowl this year, but their offensive line continued to be the team’s downfall in the big dance. With expiring contracts and other questions, the team has three open starting positions up for grabs this offseason (left guard, right guard and right tackle).
While Jonah Williams is entrenched as the team’s left tackle, the other side is a huge question mark. One veteran option set to hit the open market seems like a decent fit.
Morgan Moses Free Agency Profile
Weight: 330 pounds
Years Pro: Entering ninth season
Round Drafted: Third Round, 2014 NFL Draft
Moses went to Washington back in 2014 and ended up only starting one game as a rookie. As fate would have it the now-Commanders team drafted Brandon Scherff in 2015, with most people believing he would be the de facto starting right tackle.
Instead, because of Moses’ skill, he was tabbed the starting right tackle in his second season, while Scherff was placed as the starting right guard. Moses’ standing didn’t waver, as he signed at big five-year extension with the club back in 2017, while Scherff became a perennial Pro Bowler at the interior position on Washington’s line.
Moses briefly filled in at left tackle in 2020 and was subsequently released before the onset of the 2021 season. After that instance, we actually talked about how he’d be a nice fit for the Bengals last year.
Regardless, Cincinnati signed Riley Reiff beforehand, so Moses signed a team-friendly rental deal with the Jets in the summer. He was originally New York’s backup tackle, but a season-ending injury to Mekhi Becton allowed Moses to start 15 games as the team’s right tackle. He responded with a respectable 71.0 Pro Football Focus score in 2021.
Moses is massive, physically-speaking, and has a solid track record as an NFL right tackle. And, even though he’s on the wrong side of 30 years old, he isn’t showing many signs of his production quickly falling off of a cliff.
He was in a zone scheme last year with the Jets, which also plays into the Bengals’ hands. While he wasn’t playing at a true Pro Bowl level, he provided steadiness for a Jets offense that was chaotic at other spots.
Additionally, if we are to factor in age, Moses’ 2021 one-year deal for $3.5 million has to be very appealing to the Bengals. Given the news that the salary cap had a predictable significant jump this year, Moses may get a better deal than some expect, but he should still be an affordable short-term solution for a team.
And, “short-term” is a relative term. He could sign a similar deal to what he had with the Jets and/or Reiff’s with the Bengals this past offseason, or he may be a decent two-year bridge guy for a club.
As if that wasn’t enough, Moses hasn’t missed any games since suffering a Lisfranc injury as a rookie. Availability is one of the best assets for a capable offensive lineman and Moses brings that element.
Moses was also a previous team captain with Washington. As we know by now, Zac Taylor and Co. loves that kind of leadership.
Age is a factor, as mentioned above. While Moses still seems like he has a couple more solid seasons in him, that great durability we mentioned above could change quickly as we saw with Reiff in 2021, as opposed to his own previous health track record.
While the money may be preferable for the Bengals, Moses seems to have really enjoyed his Jets experience. While we’ll see if Robert Saleh is building the type of foundation Taylor has in Cincinnati, it sounds like Moses would like to stay put if the deal and opportunity to compete for a spot is there.
And, finally, as mentioned above, Moses was originally a backup on the 2021 regular-season depth chart. While Cincinnati has a glaring vacancy at right tackle right now, that could change with the impending NFL draft.
Moses coming to Cincinnati seems like a sensical, financially-savvy move. It may not move the needle drastically, but this could be viewed as a Reiff-like move with higher upside for 2022.
And, as we know with the Bengals, they (like most teams) prefer to enter the Draft process with as few glaring needs as possible. While Moses wouldn’t provide long-term stability, he would open things up for other developmental rookies as he potentially provides stability at a position the team hasn’t seen since the prime Andre Smith days.
There are other options available to the club with varying levels of financial commitments and/or risk. However, Moses could provide steady offensive line play for a year or two, while 2022 rookies and other players like Jackson Carman and D’Ante Smith could be groomed for future tackle roles.