The Cincinnati Bengals could soon move on from a long-time starter at a premium position. The Bengals’ trade conversations centered around left tackle Jonah Williams are heating up, NFL Media reported on Wednesday.
Cincinnati reportedly has heard from multiple suitors interested in acquiring the 25-year-old tackle. Williams requested a trade last week after the Bengals signed Orlando Brown Jr. to a four-year, $64 million deal, with an NFL-record signing bonus of $31 million for an offensive lineman.
The Bengals, who have struggled to find consistent protection for Joe Burrow, were planning to play Brown Jr. at left tackle and move Williams to right tackle. However, Williams has made all 47 of his NFL starts at left tackle, and he will play on his fifth-year option — worth $12.6 million — in 2023. So moving to a position that typically gets paid less in free agency probably doesn’t appeal to Williams.
Ironically, this is a reality Brown Jr. knows all too well. In 2021, he requested a trade from the Baltimore Ravens to the Kansas City Chiefs, partly because the Ravens wouldn’t play him at left tackle.
“It’s an odd scenario,” said Mitchell Schwartz, an analyst for The 33rd Team. “You brought in a guy (Brown) who doesn’t necessarily solve or fix a huge deficiency, and now you’ve pissed off a guy (Williams) who has been playing there for a few years. So is trading Brown for Williams a net positive for your team and your offense? I’m not quite sure about that.”
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. However, he played a career-high 1,023 snaps in 2022.