The Cincinnati Bengals opted to release veteran offensive guard Travelle Wharton yesterday, and while it’s easy to point to his $2.68 salary as the reason for his release, but there’s also the though the the coaches are confident in the younger group of lineman, and keeping Wharton around to take reps may stunt their growth.
Not only that, but with the Bengals likely to keep 8-10 offensive lineman, keeping an aging Wharton (32) who is closer to the end of his career may have cost the team a young player like Ohio State tackle Reid Fragel, Kansas guard Tanner Hawkinson, or veteran backup Anthony Collins.
And don’t forget about Trevor Robinson, who’s entering his second NFL season and is expected to battle for the starting center spot, was absent during OTAs due to a pectoral injury. He took over last year after Kyle cook went down with an injured ankle, but now Cook is fully healthy, and whoever loses the battle for the starting role is expected to be one of the first backup offensive lineman off the bench, according Geoff Hobson:
The thinking is the guy that doesn’t start is the first guard-center off the bench. If that guy is Cook, who signed a contract extension before the ’11 season, the Bengals have to figure out if that’s backup money but it would seem well worth it to make sure the middle is covered.
Speaking of injured lineman, it was a mash unit during OTAs when nearly the entire projected ted starting o-line was on the sidelines due to various ailments, but it appears as though everyone will be ready for the opening of camp:
Also expected back on the field that first day after missing all of spring are Robinson, left tackle Andrew Whitworth and left guard Travelle Wharton. Signed as a starter but now a backup, Wharton is a vet battling younger and cheaper rookies.
There was a thought that Wharton’s ability to play multiple positions on the line would keep him on the team this year, but Hawkinson and Fragel were impressive enough in OTAs that the coaches felt they would be fine without him.
This also ensure Clint Boling will be the starting left guard entering camp, and likely for the entire 2013 NFL season.