CINCINNATI — The Bengals' offensive line might be better this season, but the injury bug already bit them.
They were without Hakeem Adeniji (torn pectoral), Fred Johnson (quad) and starting right tackle Riley Reiff on Tuesday. That put fourth-round rookie D'Ante Smith in a tough position.
He had his "welcome to the NFL" moment, losing to Sam Hubbard consistently in team drills.
With offensive line depth already being tested, quarterback Joe Burrow was under constant pressure. Guys aren't getting that close to him because, but it was a one-sided battle in the trenches.
Jonah Williams lined up at left tackle. Outside of that, Burrow was playing behind four potential backups.
Trey Hopkins isn't lining up at center during team drills as he continues to recover from a torn ACL. The Bengals did get second-round pick Jackson Carman some reps at right guard, but he could ultimately start the season on the bench behind Xavier Su'a-Filo and Quinton Spain.
Is it really shocking that Burrow struggled behind a line that consisted of (from left to right) Williams, Michael Jordan, Billy Price, Carman and Smith?
The Bengals are expected to get Reiff and Johnson back sooner rather than later, but that shouldn't stop them from adding another offensive lineman in free agency.
Here are three veterans they should consider signing.
The 31-year-old had one of his best seasons for the Packers in 2020. He made nine starts and appeared in all 16 games, finishing with a 78.2 grade in pass protection and a 77 overall score according to Pro Football Focus.
Wagner is a big reason why Green Bay was tied for second in the NFL in sacks allowed (21) in 2020. They allowed one sack or less in a league-best 13 games, which tied a Packers record.
Wagner allowed one sack and one quarterback hit in 608 offensive snaps according to PFF.
There's been some chatter about hit retiring, but if he still wants to play, the Bengals should sign him and get him on the field as soon as possible.
Dotson, 35, is older than the Bengals would like, but he's a perfect veteran to add to a young room. He didn't allow a sack and only gave up one quarterback hit in 451 snaps last season according to PFF.
Dotson wouldn't command big money and would serve as a capable depth piece if Reiff or Williams got injured.
He spent the first 10 seasons of his career in Tampa Bay, before signing with Denver last season. He's a perfect budget friendly insurance policy at offensive tackle.
Okung is going to want a hefty contract and a guaranteed starting job, but he's arguably the best offensive lineman left on the market.
The Bengals could offer the 33-year-old a one-year, $8 million contract and still have plenty of cap space to sign Jessie Bates to an extension. The problem is Okung is a left tackle. He's never played on the right side, which means the Bengals would have to convince him to make the move. They've made it clear that Williams is their left tackle.
If they brought in Okung to play right tackle, they could kick Reiff inside to guard.
This is the most unrealistic of the three potential signings, but it's worth mentioning since Okung is the best available tackle.
The Bengals could sign Austin Reiter, who visited last week. They could also go after Nick Easton or another interior offensive lineman. That wouldn't solve their lack of depth at tackle, but those are two other player they should consider adding.
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