Will the Cincinnati Bengals’ Revolving Door at Right Tackle Stop Spinning in the Draft or Free Agency?

The next right tackle for the Cincinnati Bengals could be in Indianapolis this week, but a Plan B in free agency makes sense to bring stability.

INDIANAPOLIS — The right tackle position for the Cincinnati Bengals has been consistently inconsistent ever since Frank Pollack arrived as offensive line coach in 2021.

The Bengals aren’t going to change that in 2024, with another new starter set to take over after Jonah Williams’ expected departure in free agency.

But the team is intent on addressing it.

Cincinnati Bengals Weigh Options for Next Right Tackle

“Yes, we would like to have somebody man the right tackle spot for a number of years,” Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin said. “We’d like it to be a young guy that can come in and do that or a veteran that might have the opportunity to rebuild his career. Something. But yes, we would like that to be manned on multiple fronts.”

The last time the Bengals had the same player lead them in starts at right tackle in back-to-back seasons was Bobby Hart in 2019-20.

In 2021, it was Riley Reiff (12 games).

In 2022, La’el Collins (15).

In 2023, Williams (17).

“You’d love to have a guy you could plug in two or three years ago that you know is going to be there for the next 10 years,” Pollack said. “That’s part of the business, part of the league. Something you know if you sign an older guy (is that) you are hoping to find a young guy to step up and develop as well. We are looking at all those options. We’ll see where this offseason takes us.”

The newest name that will be added to the list could be in Indianapolis this week, taking part in the NFL Scouting Combine.

Or he could be enjoying his offseason and getting ready for free agency.

It would make sense for the Bengals to add one of each and see who emerges in training camp. Because even if they use their first-round pick on a tackle for the first time since taking Williams No. 9 in 2019, there is no assurance that a rookie will be ready enough for a team with an open Super Bowl window.

“You get a guy somewhere in the top 10, you are hoping it’s going to be a lot smoother transition,” Pollack said. “I’ve heard debates say after the 12th pick in the draft, what’s the difference between 13 and 32? It’s kind of that demarcation line of guys who have a smoother transition, regardless of position. It’s not a walk in the park for sure.”

By owning the No. 18 pick, the Bengals are on the wrong side of that line of demarcation.

Pollack said he remembers starting two rookies at tackle. One was Duane Brown, a five-time Pro Bowl selection during a 16-season — and counting — career. The other was Mekhi Becton, who the New York Jets selected in 2020 and is an unrestricted free agent.

Brown was picked 26th, while Becton was 11th.

“It’s not impossible, but it’s not easy,” Pollack said. “The game is faster, the opponents they’re going against a lot more technically sound and faster and stronger. The game’s more complex. The pressures they’ll see is more complex. The volume from a playbook standpoint is more complex. It’s a little bit of a difference.”

There likely will be multiple tackles taken in the first 12 picks this year. And possibly four or five more before the first round ends.

Would the best plan be to sign a guy in free agency who can be the 2024 starting right tackle if whatever rookie the team selects isn’t ready?

“That’s a great question for Duke,” Pollack said.

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Tobin said he doesn’t care where the 2024 starting right tackle comes from; the Bengals just have to make sure they find a good one.

“We’re concerned with having it manned well enough to provide us a chance to win next year,” Tobin said. “That’s the No. 1 thing. So whether that’s a rookie on a four-year deal or a veteran on a one-year deal, we’re open to anything there.”

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