Christmas came in March for the city of Cincinnati. Santa, aka the free agent market, dropped off perhaps the Bengals’ biggest package in years late one night at Paycor Stadium.
Orlando Brown Jr. The pro bowl left tackle is a Cincinnati Bengal. Much to the surprise and delight of Bengals fans but to the dismay of tackle Jonah Williams. Shortly after Brown inked his name on a contract, Jonah Williams requested a trade after seemingly being pushed out of his left tackle spot.
Bengals fans have since spent days and days leading up to the draft finding potential trade partners for Jonah Williams. Yet with no word whatsoever on the situation, we never received an update on the situation until after the NFL Draft.
Kelsey Conway of the Cincinnati Enquirer provided Bengals fans an update on Monday.
Despite the Jaguars’ reported interest, Jonah Williams’ trade request was not met. The Bengals denied a trade to Jacksonville and opted to keep the 5th year tackle.
Given the fact that the Bengals’ offensive line has been the source of their demise in the playoffs two years in a row, the Bengals should be reluctant to part ways with one of their starters. We do not know the compensation Jacksonville was willing to part with. Anything less than a top-100 draft pick would not be worth it.
Why sacrifice a starting offensive tackle for a mid-round pick when in the middle of a Super Bowl window? Having Jonah Williams on the roster not only plugs a hole at right tackle but also makes La’el Collins coming off the bench an elite depth option.
The Bengals are no stranger to relying on backup linemen. Jonah Williams, Alex Cappa, and the aforementioned La’el Collins all went down with injuries just weeks before their AFC Championship bout in Kansas City. Cincinnati was caught having to rely on their depth, and it wasn’t enough. Now, if you have a Collins as a backup option, you’re in a better spot.
Trading Jonah away becomes a dangerous game now that the draft has passed and the team did not pick up a right tackle of the future. The Bengals would be relying on 30-year-old La’el Collins when the season starts who is coming off of a major knee injury. Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com highlights this:
He says he tore the big three. The ACL, MCL, PCL. And that’s why much hasn’t been said. The climb is long and he’s quietly grinding.
Jonah Williams’ trade request has not been met yet, with no sign that it will at all. What does this mean for both sides? Status quo.
What I mean by this is that Jonah Williams has little leverage against the Bengals. He wants to play left tackle to be paid left tackle money. That isn’t going to happen. His best option now is to play Right Tackle on a team that will have a national spotlight with a star QB. Deciding to sit the season out in protest would be disastrous for Williams’ market. Williams has already missed an entire season with a shoulder injury as a rookie. Missing an entire season for a second time is a worst-case scenario for him, especially coming off a down year in which he allowed 12 sacks. Williams would make no money in 2023 and severely hinder his free agent market in 2024.
It seems the Bengals won’t have to worry about Jonah Williams sitting out. Williams understands exactly the situation he is in. Always being a team player with a hard work ethic, it is no surprise Williams will show up to offseason team activities. As reported in Kelsey’s tweet above, Jonah Williams is, in fact, expected to play right tackle for the Bengals in 2023, the best option for him and the team.
If this were the old Bengals, who weren’t competing for a title, this would be a deal they should make. But at this point, having a starting lineman and what that means for both the starting unit and the bench is way more valuable than a future mid to late-round selection. I would rather have Jonah Williams for one more year and lose him in free agency next offseason than trade him away now for a mid to late draft pick.