CINCINNATI — The Bengals have plenty of needs to fill this offseason, none of which are bigger than the gaping holes on their offensive line.
They should attack the trenches in free agency in hopes of landing a top tackle, guard or both.
The tackle market could be deeper than most originally thought, with eight-time Pro Bowler Trent Williams expected to hit free agency following one season with the 49ers.
San Francisco couldn't get a deal done with 32-year-old before the season ended, despite trying to sign him to an extension according to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler.
The 49ers want to keep Williams around for good reason. He was Pro Football Focus' top tackle for 2020, earning a 91.9 overall grade. He allowed just four sacks in 957 offensive snaps according to PFF.
Williams wants to stay with the 49ers, but it sounds like he'll listen to other offers.
“Honestly man, it don’t matter to me. San Francisco would be the leading candidate regardless. Whether it’s not or whether it is in free agency, a team has to convince me that it’s better there than it will be here," Williams said earlier this month. "Even if it doesn’t make it to free agency, it won’t be because I’m trying to go somewhere else, it may be simply just because I want to see my value. It’s been 11 years in this league and I have yet to see a franchise left tackle go to the open market. I think it’ll be interesting to see what that value holds.”
The 49ers acquired Williams from Washington last offseason for a 2020 fifth-round pick (No. 156 overall) and a 2021 third-round pick. He's dealt with some injuries throughout his career, but was dominant in 14 games this season.
He missed one game due to COVID-19 and didn't play in the season finale due to an elbow sprain.
Williams will be the top tackle on the market if he hits free agency. Russell Okung and Taylor Moton won't be far behind.
It would cost the Bengals at least $20 million per season, but bringing in someone like Williams would make life much easier on star quarterback Joe Burrow.
Jonah Williams could move to right tackle and the two Williams' could hold down the two tackle spots at Paul Brown Stadium.
Free agency begins on March 17.
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