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Peter King thinks Ryan Jensen was coming to Cincinnati, but then Tom Brady happened

What could’ve been...

NFL: NFC Divisional Round-Los Angeles Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

It was no secret the Cincinnati Bengals planned to be aggressive with upgrading their offensive line this off-season. With three new starters signed, the team clearly wants to keep Joe Burrow far away from the top of the most sacked quarterbacks list.

Just how aggressive did they plan to be? We saw the Alex Cappa deal announced just minutes after the negotiation window opened, followed by the Ted Karras pickup a few hours later. Yet another off-season where the Bengals were active right out of the gate, landing two players who will be Day 1 starters in 2022. When right tackle La’el Collins hit the open market in mid-March, the aggression once again paid off. Collins came for a visit and didn’t leave Cincinnati without a deal.

Recent reports state that while the organization was aggressive, it seems they had an even bigger splash in the plans, before one phone call shut it all down. Peter King of NBC Sports believes that center Ryan Jensen was going to sign with Cincinnati, prior to Tom Brady deciding to end his 40-day retirement.

“…right before Ryan Jensen was making the decisions, ‘should I stay or should I go’ … I believe that Ryan Jensen probably would have gone to Cincinnati, if that weekend Tom Brady didn’t call him and say ‘hey listen, I’m coming back, are you in?’”

Jensen, one of the top centers in the league, if not the top, would’ve been a big splash for Duke Tobin and company to land, but at what cost? Upon Brady announcing his return, Jensen signed a 3-year contract worth $39,000,000, with $26,5000,000 of it being fully guaranteed.

Sure, the team could have given him that same contract, but it would make the signings of Cappa, Karras and Collins more difficult. Across those three deals, Cincinnati is only on the hook for $21,000,000 in guarantees. With a potential Jensen contract carrying such a big hit and knowing how the Bengals operate, it is safe to assume they could have missed out on one or all of the other offensive lineman signed.

There is no denying how great of a player Jensen is, but Burrow may be best served behind a line with three upgrades from last season as opposed to just one.

The report does seem to confirm what we have been hearing since the spring, though: good players want to play with Burrow.