As we get closer to the legal tampering period on March 14th, the rumors of free agent interest are starting to pile in. A trend that isn’t surprising is the Cincinnati Bengals having interest in several of the top interior offensive lineman.
The most recent rumor comes from Dan Graziano and Jeremy Fowler of ESPN talking about how the Bengals are included in the long list of teams interested in San Francisco 49ers offensive guard Laken Tomlinson.
Tomlinson just turned 30 in February, and the former first round pick has been fairly impressive the last season with San Francisco. He was acquired prior to the 2021 season via swapping picks with the Detroit Lions. He had a disappointing career prior to 2021, but he played over 1,000 snaps only giving up two sacks and grading favorably with Pro Football Focus.
The list of other interested teams includes the Minnesota Vikings, Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks, Carolina Panthers and New York Jets. Get used to every serviceable offensive lineman having a long list of suitors. Just about every team is looking to improve their offensive line one way or another. There are a few teams on this list that are very likely to outright out bid Cincinnati like the Jaguars and Jets. The thing the Bengals has an upper hand on over every team here is the opportunity to come play for a contender, which still feels weird to say.
Not only that, but it was very obvious to everyone watching the Super Bowl that the only limitation right now seems to be the offensive line. This isn’t taking a leap of faith on a team that made a Super Bowl. That team will still be together for a few seasons at least. This is an opportunity to go on a run of years being with a competitor. That isn’t something anyone else on that list comes close to offering.
Tomlinson would instantly come in and likely compete for the right guard position with players like Jackson Carman and Hakeem Adeniji. He probably wins that competition, but we can’t disregard Carman taking a step in Year 2. There is also the chance that Tomlinson replaces Quinton Spain at left guard since that is where Tomlinson has played his entire NFL career.
Either way, it is refreshing to see them bring in serious competition along the offensive line rather than banking on young players to take a significant step.