We’re officially one week out from NFL free agency, and the Cincinnati Bengals will be eyeing one particular position.
Before the NFL Draft kicks off next month, the Bengals need some kind of an answer at offensive tackle, specifically right tackle.
Incumbent starter La’el Collins’ recovery from a torn ACL he suffered in December may take him out of the equation when the season begins, and Collins had a rough 2022 before his season-ending injury. The club needs clarity at the position to avoid hoping for a tackle prospect to fall 28 spots in the Draft.
Thankfully, the tackle free agent class will be full to the brim after the deadline for the franchise tag passed.
Of the six players who were tagged around the league, none of them were offensive tackles, or any offensive linemen in general. Three of them were running backs—in this economy!
#Bengals did not use the franchise tag this offseason. Here are the six non-exclusive franchise players for 2023, as announced by the NFL. pic.twitter.com/0FXnWb7kFr
— Laurel Pfahler (@LaurelPfahler) March 7, 2023
Not only did a grand total of zero o-linemen get tagged this week, there have been no extensions announced for any notable pass protector around the league as of late. Whatever free agent lineman you want the Bengals to sign, he’s still available.
Allowing Collins to recover properly and come back at some point in the season is the most likely course of action for the team. In the meantime, there needs to be a contingency to hold down the fort.
While the likes of Brown, Taylor, and McGlinchey will receive lucrative deals in the coming days, the rest of the tackle market will fall below that tier.
Having all of them available is so important because the mid-tier options—Isaiah Wynn, Jermaine Eluemunor, Cameron Fleming—can’t command high-priced deals with the best players out on the market as well. A limited selection may’ve changed this reality.