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Cincinnati Bengals Free Agency Notebook

The offensive line has been a weak spot for the Cincinnati Bengals recently. They wasted no time addressing the issues this offseason.

Joe Burrow Montez Sweat by All-Pro Reels is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Cincinnati Bengals Free Agency Notebook

Estimated Reading Time: 3 Minutes

Have you ever heard of the nonprofit organization Good360? I hadn’t either until I Googled “where does the losing team’s merchandise from the Super Bowl go”? The answer is Good360. This year’s “losing team merchandise” from Super Bowl LVI has the Cincinnati Bengals logo. They came up short against the Los Angeles Rams, as we all know.

In the leadup to that game, I profiled the Bengals’ season. One of the final observations I made in that article was that Cincinnati would really need to do a good job protecting Joe Burrow. This rang true as he was sacked 7 times during the game, tying the Super Bowl record. There was one particular sack that had all of Bengals nation holding their collective breath.

Despite the fact that he was able to play through it, there must have been an impact on his mobility and playmaking for the remainder of the game. The struggles of the offensive line in Cincinnati have been well documented. It’s why so many were surprised in 2021 when the team opted to draft WR Ja’Marr Chase instead of offensive tackle Penei Sewell from Oregon. Obviously, that decision paid off in other ways, but after the Super Bowl loss, that unit still has room for improvement.

See the Need, Address the Need

The offensive line was very much a part of the reason that Cincinnati made it to the Super Bowl, but their shortcomings were also on full display in the biggest game of the year. Check out this piece from John Sheeran that takes a deep dive into the guys on the roster along that line, and how they stack up moving forward.

The Bengals wasted no time trying to upgrade the offensive line this offseason. Right out of the gate, they signed guard Alex Cappa from Tampa Bay to a four-year, $40 million dollar deal. It’s the most they’ve ever spent on a guard. They also inked OL Ted Karras to a 3-year deal worth $18 million. He comes over from New England, where he played both center and guard.

Both of these moves demonstrate an awareness of an area the team needs to upgrade, as well as their seriousness in addressing that area. These signings also give the organization some flexibility in terms of their plans for the draft, as well as a shuffling along the line to find the best combinations to keep Burrow upright.

Scary Good

Given these moves right off the bat, it frightening to think how much better this team could be heading into next season. If the offensive line improves in the manner that Zac Taylor and the rest of the coaching staff hope, it’ll mean more time for Joe Burrow to scan the field and find the open guy. Add in the threat of Joe Mixon out of the backfield and the idea of Burrow picking apart opposing defenses has to make the rest of the division nervous. After all, even with a struggling offensive line, they managed to go all the way to the Super Bowl. It will be exciting to see what other moves the team makes in free agency and during the draft, but the Bengals, who are already pretty good, should only get better moving forward.

P.S. – if anyone in the NY Giants front office is reading this – our offensive line could use some help too. I hope you’re taking notes.

Joe is an actor who grew up eating, living and breathing sports. He spent many an afternoon on the soccer or baseball field in his youth (and even gave several other sports a shot) before a series of events put him on the path to pursuing a performing career. Subsequently, he's worked almost every other type of job you could imagine while trying to support that endeavor. Whenever he's not working any of those jobs, he can often be found watching, playing or discussing sports in some way. Most of that banter revolves around the Mets, Giants, Rangers or Manchester United. His short term goal is to fully convert his fiance into a rabid sports fan, not someone who leaves the room whenever he turns a game on.

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