Why Bengals latest free agent addition could alter team's draft strategy

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The Cincinnati Bengals continued their active start to free agency by signing offensive tackle Trent Brown to a one-year deal. Brown will likely slide into a starting spot in Cincinnati and help to bolster a depleted offensive line.

The addition of Brown was a logical one following the departure of Jonah Williams in free agency, and it could potentially alter the team's strategy at the 2024 NFL Draft. If you're wondering how, the answer is actually pretty simple.

With the draft rapidly approaching, many pundits predicted that the Bengals could look to bolster the offensive line with their first round pick (18th overall). ESPN's Mel Kiper even had Cincinnati selecting offensive tackle Taliese Fuaga from Oregon State in his latest mock draft.

Cincinnati has options at the top of the draft

However, the addition of Brown could change things, as the Bengals might not necessarily need to add an offensive lineman in the first round now. It seems like a sure thing that they'll look to bolster the line at some point in the draft, but maybe not at the top of it now.

The Bengals have other needs in addition to depth on the offensive line, and the signing of Brown could allow them to pursue other positions in the first round. They could instead look to improve up front on the defensive side of the ball, or they could look to bring in an elite pass-catcher for quarterback Joe Burrow since Tyler Boyd is a free agent and Tee Higgins requested a trade.

Kiper suggested in his mock draft that if the Bengals don't address the offensive line in the first round, they could look at a receiver or a defensive tackle.

"Cincinnati likely will also have its eyes on the second group of receivers, as it brought back Tee Higgins on the franchise tag but No. 3 wideout Tyler Boyd is still a free agent," he wrote. "Brian Thomas Jr. (LSU) is a potential fit. I also thought about defensive tackle with Byron Murphy II (Texas) still available in this scenario."

It will be extremely interesting to see what the Bengals decide to do with their first pick, and it certainly seems like the addition of Brown opened up their options.