Cincinnati Bengals fans have watched their team reach the mountain top of the NFL becoming a legitimate contender in the league. How did they get there?
Drafting Joe Burrow, but it was more than that. The Bengals did things their way, and often times it was met with criticism from around the NFL. The latest example is Orlando Brown Jr.
Cincinnati made the blockbuster move of signing the left tackle and making him the 10th highest-paid tackle in the league. He is an instant upgrade over Jonah Williams who could really benefit from a change of position from left tackle. This also helps the team make the leap over to a gap power running scheme rather than the wide zone, which has struggled to get going.
However, this move isn’t seen as a slam dunk by some NFL executives according to The Athletic’s Mike Sando. Here is what some higher-ups had to say about the move:
“To me, it shows the effort of Cincinnati being willing to invest dollars in protecting their quarterback, and I’m good with them doing that,” an exec told Sando. “At the same time, I’m hoping they have done their research, just from the standpoint that there’s a reason he is on his third team in four seasons.”
The move is clearly getting some mixed messages. The one thing it is helping do is change the preseption that the Bengals front office isn’t willing to pay outside free agents to keep the team contending. Even though that is something they have been doing since the 2021 off-season.
“Problem is, I think (Brown) is a right tackle,” another exec said. “I think he played his best football in Baltimore’s system because he was protected. In terms of being a true blue-chip left tackle, I don’t see it. But he could look better in Cincy because Burrow gets the ball out faster than (Patrick) Mahomes.”
This was the biggest thing people have against the signing. There are plenty of people and teams that view Brown as a right tackle. The Bengals got a bargain for a reason. Brown wanted to stay at right tackle and play for a winner. He got both in Cincinnati. However, we saw Jawaan Taylor and Mike McGlinchey sign contracts this same off-season who were right tackles the previous year for way more than what Brown got.
The NFL is dealing with a serious shortage of quality offensive linemen. The pass rushers are far outclassing the offensive line, and at this point, if you can get a left tackle of Brown’s caliber for what the Bengals did, that is a slam dunk.
“They are more gap-duo in their running game now after being more of a wide zone team, so he fits them more,” another exec said, “It doesn’t really bother Burrow when the tackle loses the edge. He can avoid that. It’s when the tackle gets collapsed back into him that there is no way to escape. Orlando Brown can cover his guy up.”
It is kind of clear that Brown is ultimately a way better fit for the direction the Bengals are going than Williams was at left tackle. This certainly will limit how often the Bengals can go with an empty backfield on offense, but overall, Brown will likely be a huge upgrade to an offensive line that was already coming together last season before injuries tore it apart.