One of the most talked about position groups on the Cincinnati Bengals the last few seasons has been the offensive line. With the splash signing of Orlando Brown Jr., that likely won’t change in 2023.
The rest of the line will be players who were in the building last year, with Jonah Williams fighting for the tackle position opposite of where he has played his whole career.
The interior of the offensive line looks to be set to “run it back” after last season. Alex Cappa will be the right guard, and second-year guard Cordell Volson looks primed to retain the right spot.
As for the heart of the middle, a strong, veteran leader in Ted Karras will return to anchor the unit that protects franchise quarterback Joe Burrow.
Hometown: Chicago, IL
Experience: 7 years
Karras enters the second year of the three-year, $18 million contract he signed in the 2022 off-season. Karras will carry a $5.6 million cap hit this season.
The New England Patriots selected Karras in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft, and he became a consistent starter in 2019. In his time in New England, Karras won two Super Bowl titles while blocking for Tom Brady. Karras played both center and guard, depending on where he was needed. He spent the 2020 season with the Miami Dolphins before returning to New England for the 2021 season.
After coming to Cincinnati in 2022, Karras quickly became a leader and fan favorite. The Thursday Night Football mic’d up game, his viral rant leaving the field in Tennessee, and his Cincy Hat project have all played a role in making Karras a favorite amongst Bengals fans.
On the field, Karras was a solid presence that Burrow could always depend on. He played 1,100 snaps in 2022, allowing only two sacks and only committing three penalties. A good rule of thumb is that if you don’t hear broadcasts mentioning the center from your favorite team, it is a good thing. That was the case for Karras in 2022.
Karras got off to a bit of a slow start to the year when the Bengals’ revamped offensive line was still building chemistry, especially after Joe Burrow missed all of training camp and the preseason due to an appendectomy. He allowed nine pressures in a three-game stretch vs. the Cowboys, Jets, and Dolphins. Not terrible by any means, but not the level of player he is either.
The veteran would finish the regular season with a modest 62.6 PFF grade, which was still an upgrade over the level of play Cincinnati was getting at just about any offensive line spot since 2017.
But Karras shined when it mattered most, as he finished the Bengals’ three-game playoff run with a standout 71.7 PFF grade while allowing just four pressures in the postseason and earned a season-high 84.5 pass-blocking grade in the narrow Wild Card win over Baltimore.
He also didn’t allow a sack over his final eight games.
Outlook for 2023:
Karras earned the starting job prior to the 2022 season, and there is no reason to believe that won’t be the case in 2023. Barring injury, Karras will once again anchor the middle of Cincinnati’s offensive line.
Roster Odds: 100%
Karras is a lock to make the Bengals roster and hopefully continue to anchor this offensive line for many years to come.