5 free agents the Bengals could sign for the minimum

Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /
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Cincinnati Bengals
Kelechi Osemele #70 of the Oakland Raiders (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images) /

Free Agents Bengals Could Sign for Minimum

Kelechi Osemele, OG, Kansas City Chiefs

Like some of the top remaining free agent linemen, such as Schwartz, David DeCastro, or Russell Okung, Kelechi Osemele has also once been recognized as one of the top players at his position, earning First-Team All-Pro honors in 2016 with the Raiders.

Since then, Osemele has struggled with injuries, culminating in just a five-game season with the Chiefs last season that ended in him tearing tendons in both his legs.

Though Osemele has not regained that All-Pro form in the half-decade since his award, he showed flashes of his old self last season. Following several opt-outs from the Chiefs’ offensive line, Osemele was thrust into a starting role in Week 1, but helped pave the way for rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire to have a massive debut.

In just those five games, Osemele generated nearly the same AV as he did in eleven games in his last season with the Raiders. Once Osemele went down—unfortunately, against his old team in the Raiders—the Chiefs lost their only game of the season in which they played to win. The lack of offensive line stability was also a major factor in the Chiefs’ Super Bowl loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, something Osemele could have helped with immensely.

For that reason, it would not be surprising to see the Chiefs try to re-sign Osemele as a depth piece for another hopeful Super Bowl run. However, Osemele would certainly not be a starter, as the Chiefs will not only return opt-outs such as Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and Lucas Niang, but they also spent significant money to lure Joe Thuney and Kyle Long in free agency.

Thus, if Osemele wants a clearer path to playing time, even coming off a significant injury, the Bengals could offer that as a swing guard who could flex out to tackle. Although Osemele has not played tackle since his first season in Baltimore, he could serve as an emergency option as well as a quality backup tackle.

Osemele would also cost much less than other high-level veteran free agents. While players like Schwartz and DeCastro will likely seek large one-year contracts, Osemele played last season for Kansas City on a one-year, $1.18 million deal. Coming off multiple knee injuries, his market should not balloon past that number.

Though the Bengals could likely scrape by this season without another veteran addition, someone like Osemele would solidify the inside and give the team another option in case of injury or poor play.