Where do the Bengals go from here with Jonah Williams?
What are the Cincinnati Bengals planning on doing with starting left tackle Jonah Williams? In short, the answer is nothing. Yet, in some internet fan circles, there is a question concerning what the Bengals will do with Jonah Williams.
In an attempt to play “capologist,” some think the team should release the starting left tackle. This will not happen. Cincinnati announced that the team would pick up Williams’ fifth-year option in April last year. At that point, his $12.6M became guaranteed. If the Bengals release him, his salary would still be on the team’s salary cap in the way of dead money.
For better or worse, the Bengals will not trade or release Williams and he will be on the roster in 2023.
What's next for Jonah Williams and the Bengals?
Odds are that the answer to this question is nowhere. At least, he is not going anywhere in the 2023 season. Anticipate him to be the starter at left tackle if healthy. The expectation is that he will be ready to go before training camp begins after suffering another knee injury.
The Bengals did not intend to sign off on his fifth-year option and not start him. Furthermore, despite his struggles, the team has never wavered in their belief in Williams as the starting left tackle. He has never missed any time because of performance. The coaching staff has never tried a rotation as they did at right guard in the 2021 season.
Never say never
The Bengals will never release or trade Williams only to carry $12M in dead cap money. That does not mean it is impossible to imagine a scenario in which Williams is not at left tackle. It is just highly unlikely that he will not be the starting left tackle.
The Bengals do not currently have another option on the roster who they believe can perform up to the level Williams provides. Therefore, any potential “upgrade” must come from outside the building.