Bengals should give Larry Ogunjobi a chance to come home

Larry Ogunjobi #65 and Sam Hubbard #94 of the Cincinnati Bengals. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Larry Ogunjobi #65 and Sam Hubbard #94 of the Cincinnati Bengals. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi left the Cincinnati Bengals in free agency on good terms, and he may yet come back, albeit on slightly awkward terms. Could the prodigal son return?

This situation reads like a cheating partner trying to reconcile a relationship, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Ogunjobi can swallow his pride, the Bengals can offer him a cheaper but well-priced deal, and the team can act like he never left.

Early in free agency, Ogunjobi was set to join the Chicago Bears on a three-year, $40.5 million dollar deal, but he failed his physical and never got signed.

The five-year tackle suffered a foot injury in the Wild Card round of the 2021 playoffs and missed most of Cincinnati’s postseason, so there’s reason to be alarmed at his health status. Yet Cincy can use that (and his failed physical) as leverage to get a bargain one-year “prove it” deal with Ogunjobi and keep their interior defense intact for 2022.

Cincinnati Bengals should welcome DT Larry Ogunjobi back in 2022

The Bengals also have their eyes on Kansas City Chiefs’ Jarran Reed, who could potentially fill the hole Ogunjobi left behind. Coming off a productive season with the Chiefs, Reed boasts just as much experience as Ogunjobi along with a clean bill of health for the last two years.

On the basis of familiarity, though, Ogunjobi performed incredibly well in Cincy’s interior defense last season and adding him back into the mix would be a completely seamless transition. In 2021, Ogunjobi recorded 49 tackles, seven sacks, and 24 quarterback pressures, serving a crucial role in the defense that got Cincinnati to the playoffs in the first place.

As a desirable free agent target Ogunjobi may be considering other destinations, but returning to Cincy makes a lot of sense, even if it won’t make him a lot of money. Ogunjobi would likely have to accept a less lucrative deal given his injury history, but he still has the opportunity to cash in next offseason.

The Bengals already signed his partner-in-crime, B.J. Hill, to a three-year, $30 million dollar contract, and at this stage, Ogunjobi would probably get something equal of value or even less than that.

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Ogunjobi needs to put his ego and pride aside for a chance at reconciliation, and Cincinnati needs to meet him halfway. Stay tuned to see if these two sides can get a deal done this free agency.