This offseason, the Cincinnati Bengals made incisive moves to secure Joe Burrow’s protection for the foreseeable future, but there’s still at least one loose end they need to tie.
Left tackle Jonah Williams is entering the final year of his contract in 2022, and the Bengals will need to decide whether or not they want to pick up his fifth-year option.
Doing so would ensure Williams is locked down for 2023, but at a projected $12.6 million dollar cap hit.
The 2019 first-rounder has been hailed as a formidable left tackle and arguably the team’s best offensive lineman last season. Williams’ rookie year was derailed due to a shoulder injury, but he has since bounced back in a huge way, quietly becoming one of the league’s premier young tackles.
Is he worth the fifth-year option or an extension?
There’s no clear choice for Bengals to make about offensive tackle Jonah Williams
Our gut says yes, Williams will live up to his first-round potential, and the Bengals can never have too many quality offensive tackles, anyway.
His nearly $13 million dollar cap hit for 2023 shouldn’t be shrugged off, though. Cincinnati will also have to consider the future of star safety Jessie Bates, and they will probably want to get Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase’s hefty contracts done earlier rather than later.
There’s also the option to extend Williams for the long-term, which would work in Williams’ favor should he suffer another season-ending injury. But Williams has suited up for the Bengals just 26 times in the last three years, so durability is a fair concern.
So far this offseason, Cincinnati hasn’t shied away from paying its offensive tackles the big bucks, signing La’el Collins and Ted Karras to contracts until 2024 and Alex Cappa to one until 2025.
At 24-years-old, Williams hasn’t yet hit his prime form and could give the Bengals many productive years as Joe Burrow’s trusty left hand man.
The Bengals have until May 2 to make a decision on Williams’ fifth-year option, so we’d expect their O-line additions in the draft to inform us on what Williams’ future in Cincinnati might hold.
Williams hasn’t yet outpriced his stay in Cincy, but he could by the end of this upcoming season. Decisions, decisions, decisions…