CINCINNATI — The Bengals signed five free agents that played elsewhere last week, including two starting cornerbacks, a defensive end and defensive tackle, but it's what they didn't do that concerns Peter King of NBC Sports.
The legendary sportswriter is worried about the Bengals' lack of moves to upgrade their offensive line.
"It was worrisome to me that a former Bengal guard still playing very well, Kevin Zeitler, escaped to division rival Baltimore (for the comparative bargain of $7.5 million a year) early in the week, eschewing the Bengals," King wrote. "Worrisome because Cincinnati entered this offseason with its highest priority improving an offensive line that had Joe Burrow running for his life as a rookie last fall, and Zeitler was a plug-and-play guy who, at 31, could steady the ship for the next two or three seasons. Then Burrow got into the act, helping recruit veteran tackle Riley Reiff over a steak Thursday night. “I went away from eating that steak and I was like, ‘I want to block for this guy,’“ Reiff said after signing for one year and $7.5 million. “Seeing him on the film . . . He’s even better off the field.” Must have been some steak.
"Reiff and Jonah Williams likely will man the tackle slots, but the interior line is exceedingly weak; Cincinnati’s line ranked 30th in composite offensive-line grades in 2020. The need is still acute if Burrow is going to have a cleaner pocket than the one that got him injured last season."
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The Bengals still have time to fix the interior of their line, but King's concern is valid. They need to sign a right guard like Trai Turner or Larry Warford. They're both proven veterans that can help shore up the interior of the line. It wouldn't be a shock if they looked for a veteran center. Former Chiefs lineman Austin Reiter would be an intriguing option.
The Bengals have plenty of cap space remaining—around $23 million. Some of that will be used on the rookie class, the practice squad and they have to fill out the rest of the roster, but they have enough space to make one or two more upgrades to the offensive line before the draft.
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