The Cincinnati Bengals went to work this offseason doing everything they could to revamp the offensive line that essentially cost them a Super Bowl title. With even a mediocre offensive line, the Bengals very well could have been the reigning Super Bowl champions right now but after Joe Burrow was sacked seven times in the big game, that was difficult to overcome.
When free agency kicked off, Cincinnati was the first team to strike, agreeing to terms on a four-year $35 million deal with Alex Cappa of the Buccaneers. Cappa ensured that Cincy would have a much better starting right guard in 2022, as he had a 73.4 PFF grade in Tampa last year.
Shortly after landing Cappa, the Bengals kept at it, signing the versatile Ted Karras to a three-year deal worth $18 million. Karras is an asset because he has the ability to play both left guard and center but the consensus seems to be that he’ll be lining up at center in 2022.
Lastly, the stripes were aggressive in landing La’el Collins, who the Cowboys had released earlier in the offseason. Collins has battled injuries and inconsistencies but he’s an upgrade at right tackle for the good guys.
Meanwhile, Jonah Williams returns to play left tackle and it’s probable that Jackson Carman will line up at left guard.
This new offensive line is great but there’s one glaring downside and that’s that this group hasn’t played together before. Getting them to mesh was what Marc Sessler of NFL.com listed as Cincinnati’s biggest remaining offseason priority.
"If Volson prevails, you’re looking at five starters with zero shared playing experience. Health, availability and reps become paramount as we forge into the summer. If this unit becomes one, Joe Burrow lives on a cloud."
Now Sessler put fourth-round rookie Cordell Volson in the mix at left guard, that’s why “If Volson prevails…” was the intro to that blurb.
Bengals o-line should be better but it will take some time
While the unit should ultimately be better than it was in 2021, it’s not going to happen immediately. People underestimate the value of guys playing together and this group doesn’t have that luxury. Even if Carman wins the left guard job, he and Williams would be the only two familiar with each other.
Even still, this is a much better situation to be in than what fans were faced with a year ago.
All contract info is courtesy of Spotrac.