Bad news first – the Cincinnati Bengals lost their two best offensive lineman to other teams on Thursday. Andrew Whitworth inked a 3-year, $36 million deal with the LA Rams.
Kevin Zeitler went even bigger (with a smaller team). KZ will spend the next 5 years with the Cleveland Browns, and get 60 million bucks for it. It’s kinda sad that the Bengals didn’t even make an offer for him. But it’s also not surprising – the Cincy brass traditionally doesn’t place a lot of value on offensive guards.
Given this departure of talent, it’s a good thing that quarterback Andy Dalton is under contract. Otherwise, he might blow town now that the two best players are gone from a line that allowed 41 sacks last season.
So, will the Bengals try to snag some bodies from the free agency field to replace the Whitworth-Zeitler protection agency? Or will they look to the draft to get some big uglies? Some names to remember include Minnesota Vikings (and former Bengal) OT Andre Smith, LSU C/G Ethan Pocic, and Western Kentucky’s OT/G Forrest Lamp. Keep an eye out for them.
Now, The Good News
Dre Kirkpatrick signed a 5-year, $52.5 million contract Thursday. His presence is almost as big a gain to the secondary as Zeitler and Whitworth are a loss to the O-line. He provides stability to the defensive backfield and was a big reason why the Cincinnati Bengals tied for fourth in the NFL last year with 17 interceptions. Many wonder how or if this move will impact the future of CB Adam Jones, who has had off-the-field trouble.
Overall, this didn’t feel like a good day for Cincinnati. Losing Whitworth and Zeitel hurts no matter who the team signs to replace them. Getting Kirkpatrick is good and there are still plenty of quality players out there to be signed or drafted. But it still feels like a step back. And for a team that entered 2016 with playoff expectations and finished 6-9-1, any step back can be bad. Real bad.
Will the Bengals have back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 2007-08? Leave a comment and tell us what you think.