July 16, 2024

Analysis: Despite low trade value, Chris Roling still has potential to be a special player……

On Tuesday, the team officially signed Trent Brown to a one-year deal. While it’s a major haul for an offensive line that desperately needed it, Brown does not appear to be a long-term solution.

Instead, Brown will likely be a stopgap for the Bengals, who may very well land a rookie right tackle in this year’s NFL Draft. This is one of the deepest classes of right tackles in recent memory, so there’s a good chance that the best player available at pick No. 18 is someone at said position.

But the 30-year-old and one-time Super Bowl-champion Brown did not come to Cincinnati to sit on the bench or be a swing tackle. He almost certainly got some kind of assurance that he’ll be the starter this season, so Brown is not worried about a potential rookie taking his spot.

“None at all” were his words.

Even with Brown locking down the right side, it should not deter the Bengals from taking a tackle at 18, especially since he’s missed 5+ games in all but one season since 2019. He’s about as good as it gets at right tackle when healthy, but with the potential to miss multiple games, the Bengals must have a competent backup behind him.

Now that Brown is here, the Bengals will have a tough time getting another quality free agent tackle to join the team. That’s why a high draft pick may be the team’s best-case scenario for having a quality backup behind Brown for the 2024 season.

The Bengals don’t need to go back far to see where not having a backup tackle can be costly.

In 2021, the team signed veteran Riley Reiff to be a one-year stopgap at right tackle. While it wasn’t fair to call Reiff injury-prone, he had missed at least one game due to injury in five straight seasons.

Reiff was solid in 2021 as a 33-year-old tackle but missed the entire postseason due to injury and was replaced by Isaiah Prince, a former undrafted free agent who simply wasn’t someone you ever want starting for an NFL team, especially one that made it all the way to Super Bowl LVI.

While one shouldn’t put that Super Bowl loss to the Rams on the shoulders of Prince, you do have to wonder how that game would have gone if there had even been an average backup right tackle on the roster.

It happened again the very next year, as the Bengals signed the oft-injured  in hopes he could hold down the fort at right tackle. However, Collins suffered a season-ending injury late in the year, which led to Hakeem Adeniji getting thrust into the starting lineup.

Like Prince, Adeniji was a major weakness that contributed to the Bengals’ ultimate demise in the AFC Championship loss to the Chiefs. So, that’s two playoff losses decided by a combined six points that happened, in part but not exclusively, because the Bengals didn’t have an adequate backup right tackle.

Here’s to hoping the Bengals find a way to ensure there’s not another massive dropoff between the starter and the backup this time around.

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