Solidifying the offensive line will be one of the Bengals priorities during the 2021 offseason. A Pro Football Focus article stating the“One free-agent each NFL team should pursue in the 2021 offseason” claims Cincinnati should attempt to sign New England Patriots guard Joe Thuney.
Thuney played every snap for the Patriots in all but two games this season. Adding a veteran on the Cincinnati offensive line is critical with franchise quarterback Joe Burrow returning off of a torn ACL in week 11 against the Washington Football team. The only high-round pick on the Bengals’ OL is tackle Jonah Williams.
Williams was the 11th pick in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft by Cincinnati. Williams played every snap in eight games in 2020 before suffering his own season-ending injury. When official offseason workouts begin in April, Williams is expected to be ready. Williams would have returned in 2020 had he been injured earlier.
Veterans Alex Redmond and Quinton Spain top the Bengals depth chart at guard. Redmond and Spain were both undrafted free agents. Trey Hopkins seems ensconced for the Bengals at center. Hopkins suffered his own torn ACL in the Bengals season finale against the Ravens and will have his own rehab during the offseason.
"CINCINNATI BENGALS: G JOE THUNEYWith Joe Burrow coming off a season-ending knee injury, the Bengals desperately need to put some protection in front of him going forward. Jonah Williams (70.1) was solid in his first year of action, and the team might be in position to draft Penei Sewell out of Oregon in April.Free agency would also give them a good chance to find some interior help.Thuney has allowed just three sacks in the past three years, posting PFF pass-blocking grades of at least 85.0 in two of those three seasons. He is also a good run blocker and doesn’t get penalized often.He would represent a monster upgrade along Cincinnati’s offensive line."
Developing the offensive linemen they draft is important for the future of the Bengals. Center Billy Price was the Bengals first-round pick in 2018. Price played offensive snaps in just five games in 2020. Hopkins passed Price on the depth chart this season and played every snap in all but two games.
The need to upgrade the talent on the Bengals offensive line is apparent when you have one first-round pick and three undrafted free agents starting. The addition of Thune and the potential to draft Sewell would be huge upgrades for the 2021 season. Thuney’s high grades in run and pass blocking will increase the talent on the OL.
Thuney played at North Carolina State in college but is a graduate of Archbishop Alter in Kettering outside of Dayton. Thuney could decide to return home where the Bengals future seems brighter with Burrow at QB than the uncertainty in New England with who their QB will beginning in the 2021 season.