With their roster currently at 62 players, the Cincinnati Bengals have some work to do before the NFL Draft.
The first waves of free agency have passed, which means demand for available players has decreased dramatically. This should pave the way for a handful of frugal additions to Cincinnati’s roster.
One position to look out for is defensive tackle. There are only four on the team right now, and aside from B.J. Hill, the Bengals have no true 3-technique that they could play.
Per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, attempts were made by the Bengals to sign Jarran Reed, but Reed ultimately chose the Green Bay Packers. Fowler also reports that there is a possibility the team reunites with Larry Ogunjobi.
Bringing back Larry Ogunjobi is a possibility, I’m told, but he’ll want starter’s money that Cincinnati might not have. Ogunjobi had agreed to terms with the Bears, but he failed his physical, and he is now back on the market.
Bringing back Ogunjobi makes total sense considering there were reports from earlier in the offseason that the Bengals wanted to retain him and Hill, but the dynamic of paying those two players is a little complicated, as Fowler alluded to.
Hill is making starter-money on his new contract. Ogunjobi was set to make the same with the Chicago Bears before they failed his physical and suspiciously signed a cheaper option in Justin Jones immediately afterwards. Would Ogunjobi want to return for significantly less than what he would’ve made in Chicago to play behind Hill, who was his backup last year? That remains to be seen, but the door does appear to be open.
An Ogunjobi return would essentially give Cincinnati the exact same defense they had last year. That unit finished 11th in EPA/play allowed and out-performed the offense during their playoff run to the Super Bowl. They’re also expected to add Joseph Ossai, who missed all of 2021 with a knee injury, to the pass-rushing rotation, as well as a cornerback fairly early in the draft.
Don’t expect a decision from Ogunjobi to be made soon. It’s in his best interest to see what teams will still need defensive tackles after April’s draft, and that could raise his asking price as well. He’s also still recovering from the foot injury he suffered in the Wild Card round, so the more time he heals, the more likely teams will be interested in him.