The Cincinnati Bengals thought they finally had solidified their bookend tackles after signing Orlando Brown Jr. on Wednesday. Not so fast.
Jonah Williams, who has served as Joe Burrow‘s blindside protector on the left side of the Bengals’ offensive line, requested a trade through his agent, NFL Media reported on Friday.
Williams, 25, has made 47 career starts at left tackle. He is due $12.6 million guaranteed on his fifth-year option. Brown’s contract is for four years and $64 million, with an NFL-record signing bonus of $31 million for an offensive lineman.
The Bengals’ plan was apparently to play Brown on the left side and shift Williams to right tackle, a position that traditionally pays less on the open market. This could be a point of contention for a player who is a year away from becoming an unrestricted free agent.
Williams was the Bengals’ 2019 first-round pick out of Alabama. He missed his entire rookie season after injuring his left shoulder in OTAs. He got hurt the following season again, playing 10 games before suffering a season-ending right knee injury. Williams did play a career-high 1,023 snaps in 2022.
In 2021, it was Brown who requested a trade from the Baltimore Ravens to the Kansas City Chiefs, partly because the Ravens wouldn’t play him at left tackle.
If the Bengals can’t figure out a way to mend fences with Williams, they’re looking at a big hole at right tackle. La’el Collins played there for most of last season, but he suffered a torn ACL in Week 16 against the New England Patriots.
Williams’ age and affordable cap hit this season should make him an attractive trade piece, should the Bengals acquiesce to his demand.