The Cincinnati Bengals are flooded with young talent that will eventually lead them to make tough decisions on who to keep and who is worth letting go and replacing.
Re-signing everybody is unrealistic, and so far, Cincinnati has shown that with their recent contract disputes surrounding Jessie Bates. Unfortunately, it seems as if the Cincinnati front office is hesitant about committing to a long-term, deal-making Bates, one of the highest-paid safeties in the NFL.
Duke Tobin and Katie Blackburn have to be very stout with how they distribute their money over the next few seasons, and here are five players the Cincinnati Bengals should build around for future success.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Focus
6. Jonah Williams
The offensive line is exceptionally vital for a team’s success, and many saw that last year when the Bengals got held back at times due to their inability to create time in the pocket for Burrow and rushing lanes for Mixon.
Jonah Williams is the piece that Cincinnati needs to keep long-term, especially being a left tackle and turning just 25 in November. The left tackle is what is protecting Joe Burrow’s blind spot and, more often than not, the most elite talent for edge pass rushers. Williams has proven he can hold his own and is still young and getting better each year.
One could make the case here for Alex Cappa or La’el Collins, but they are both locked up for the next three years, and by the time those contracts end, Williams will be entering his prime while Collins will be in his 30s, as will Cappa. Not to mention a guard is easier to replace than a tackle is.
Williams had the highest Pro Football Focus overall grade last year for Bengals linemen, and he could repeat that even with a lot more talent beside him on the offensive line. Williams had a 77.4 PFF 2021 grade and had over 1,000 snaps, all being at left tackle.
He was drafted in 2019 out of Alabama and missed his entire rookie season due to injury, so really, 2020 was his first real season on the field and taking actual in-game snaps.