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The Cincinnati Bengals should Trade for Gabe Jackson

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 10: Offensive guard Gabe Jackson #66 of the Oakland Raiders gets set on the line against the Kansas City Royals during the second half at Arrowhead Stadium on December 10, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 10: Offensive guard Gabe Jackson #66 of the Oakland Raiders gets set on the line against the Kansas City Royals during the second half at Arrowhead Stadium on December 10, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images) /
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After a successful free agency and draft, the Cincinnati Bengals should make one more big move to acquire guard Gabe Jackson. 

The Cincinnati Bengals have had quite the turnover this offseason. A brand new franchise quarterback, a plethora of free-agent acquisitions, and a complete overhaul of the linebacker corps all point to a new direction for the franchise.

Despite all of the talent acquired, there still remains a mystery along the offensive trenches. The left tackle position appears to belong to last year’s first-round pick, Jonah Williams. The line will be anchored by Trey Hopkins. Fred Johnson and Bobby Hart look to battle it out to protect the right edge. However, the guard position remains wide open.

The organization has been open about their belief that youngster Michael Jordan will take a big leap in his development. Even if that’s the case, the best option for the other guard spot is the newly added Xavier Su’a Filo. He could thrive in offensive line coach Jim Turner’s scheme, but rather than expecting so much from a player who spent the past several seasons as a backup, the front office could make a move for a more sure solution.

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Back in early March, insider Ian Rapoport reported that the Oakland Raiders had been having trade talks for their 28-year-old big man, Gabe Jackson. Since then, GM Mike Mayock has seemed to throw cold water on the rumors, stating that Jackson is the team’s starting guard moving forward. However, that shouldn’t stop the Bengals from attempting to pry the 335-pound mauler from California.

All hands have to be on deck to ensure a smooth transition for Joe Burrow. The front office has done a great job of surrounding the LSU product with an array of weapons along with a much-improved defense, but the protection could be improved. Jackson appears to be the best and most realistic option to shore up the offensive line unit.

According to Over The Cap, the Bengals have roughly $24M in cap space remaining. However, the team still needs to sign their rookie draft class, work on extending players such as A.J. Green and Joe Mixon, as well as keep some reserves for injury insurance. This would seem to leave very little room to absorb Jackson’s $9.6M cap hit.

The good news is, the Bengals could move on from Jackson with zero dead cap space for the remainder of his contract. If the report from Michael Silver that Jackson’s asking price “is not high” is true, it may be worth giving up a late-round 2021 draft pick, even if they aren’t sure they’ll keep him for the duration of his contract. They can guarantee to keep the new face of their franchise up-right now and decide what cap decisions to make later.

Jackson would come in and instantly help stabilize the Bengals front while opening up the run game for Mixon and company. For a franchise relying on a young quarterback to take the reigns so quickly, giving him an extra second or two to make his reads can make all the difference in the world. The draft didn’t fall correctly for the front office to add offensive line prospects early on, but that shouldn’t stop them from exploring the trade market, whether it’s for Jackson or another reasonable veteran.

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With the AFC North looking to be hyper-competitive this year, the Bengals should stop at nothing to give their new fiery leader the best chance to put them on top of the division. Trading for Gabe Jackson is a move towards that direction and one the front office should make.

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