The Bengals are staying busy ahead of roster cutdown day. They traded backup center Billy Price to the New York Giants for defensive tackle B.J. Hill and a conditional seventh-round pick on Monday.
Cincinnati is putting the finishing touches on their 2021 roster. The Price era was a disappointment. The Bengals' first round selections from 2014-18 (Darqueze Dennard, Cedric Ogbuehi, William Jackson, John Ross, Billy Price) are no longer on the roster.
Let's dive in and grade the trade aimed to bolster the defensive trenches in Cincinnati.
With Price on the way out, it's a clear sign of two things from the Bengals' offensive coaching staff. They're confident in starting center Trey Hopkins' ability to stay healthy. It could also mean they like what they've seen from sixth-round rookie Trey Hill.
Price had his best season under offensive line coach Frank Pollack in 2018, but has regressed to the mean since then. The former Buckeye posted pass-blocking grades of 26.1 and 29.4 over the past two seasons according to Pro Football Focus. Hill must've shown enough in his first preseason to give the organization confidence in what they had behind Hopkins and Price.
A savvy move given Price is on the final year of his rookie deal and hasn't given Hopkins much competition.
Defensively, this trade injects another disruptive body into the Bengals interior defensive line.
Hill was taken two rounds later than Price in the same draft class and has flashed strong wrecking ability over his first three seasons. The 26-year-old's posted 7.5 sacks and 116 tackles in 48 games (17 starts). PFF is a big fan of his snap-to-snap productivity. He's earned grades of 73.4, 75.9, and 69.1 in his first three NFL campaigns.
The site credits Hill with 65 quarterback pressures and 61 defensive stops through 3 seasons. To put that consistency into perspective, Geno Atkins is the only interior lineman that has amassed 15-plus pressures for the Bengals in any season since 2018. Hill has a chance to come in and make an instant impact.
That impact should be felt even quicker and more consistently if this entire defensive line can avoid catastrophic injuries. They already had one with Joseph Ossai going down, but they likely aren't too worried about Hill's health. The NC State product has played in every game of his career (48), but has only made 17 starts.
“I have a lot of respect for B.J. [Hill] as a player, I think he’s a starting defensive lineman in this league,” Giants head coach Joe Judge said about the trade. “He’s in a unique position in the room he’s in. He’s in the last year of his contract, and I think this is an opportunity to improve our team but also put a player we have a lot of respect for to go out there and be in position to get starter money. So it’s something I think that works out for both parties very well. We appreciate what B.J. did.”
Hill was caught in the middle of a very strong defensive line rotation beginning in his second year. Now he has a defined role as the backup 3-tech behind Larry Ogunjobi. Hill can play three positions along the trenches, but PFF tracked his 2020 stats as focused on two spots. PFF pegged Hill with 198 snaps at 3-tech and 109 snaps at 5-tech. He played the other 28 snaps at nose tackle.
One-on-one victories are the name of the game for Hill, who comes in with proven chops as an interior pass rusher. Now the question is whether the Bengals can tap into the player he was in his first season when he notched 5.5 sacks, the second-most by a rookie in Giants history.
He figures to be much more important in the Bengals non-injury impacted plans than Price would've been.
According to John Baines, the deal adds a small bit of money to the Bengals overall cap sheet for 2021. With Price's dead cap charge and Hill's salary, the team added $105,842 to their cap number.
This move is peanuts compared to what backup 3-techs cost on the open market and allows the Bengals to swap players, as opposed to adding Hill off the street and cutting Price without receiving the conditional pick. The Hill-Price deal was great business by the Bengals as they get set to kick off a very important 2021 season.
Final Grade: A
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