Nov 30, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; Cincinnati Bengals guard Mike Pollak (67) against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Cincinnati Bengals defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 14-13. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
It’s a bit of a surprise move considering Pollak was a very productive backup along the offensive line’s interior the past couple of seasons. With the ability to play at either guard position or at center, Pollak filled-in admirably for injured linemen several times despite dealing with knee issues. The move frees up just over $1.1 million in cap space this season, but does leave a hole in the Bengals’ depth chart.
The decision to release Pollak, who had re-signed with the Bengals prior to the 2014 season, could be an expression of confidence in the development of a player like Tanner Hawkinson or in the skills of Trey Hopkins who was impressive last preseason prior to getting injured. It also likely means the Bengals confidence in re-signing Clint Boling. The move could also mean the team is looking into investing in a guard this off-season, presumably in the draft.
Many pundits and fans have suggested the team investing in LSU tackle La’El Collins. The 6’5″, 321-pound Collins is a mammoth of a lineman who could move inside if need be. His punishing run blocking would fit well in Hue Jackson’s running scheme. If he’s available in the first round, Mike Pollak’s vacancy seems to indicate he’d be the team’s selection.
If the team isn’t able to find a capable tackle in the first round who can double as a guard if necessary, the Bengals may very well draft a guard in the later rounds. In the middle rounds, a player such as Josue Matias out of Florida State could be a solid fit for the Bengals while Al Bond out of Memphis could be an interesting fit in the later rounds.
Mike Pollak’s release comes as a bit of a surprise, but if his knee issues were becoming more concerning over time, this is the time to release him. The Bengals will have two extra selections in this year’s draft, but also have a player in Hawkinson who they have been grooming for several years, and an impressive young player in Trey Hopkins. It’s because of these options the Bengals’ offensive line won’t necessarily suffer without Pollak, and maybe even if they choose not to draft a replacement.
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