The trade the Cincinnati Bengals should make to help Joe Burrow

Former LSU football QB Joe Burrow (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Former LSU football QB Joe Burrow (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /

The Cincinnati Bengals need to give Joe Burrow some help in his rookie season.

The Cincinnati Bengals were in a position to take LSU football’s Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft because they were the worst team in the league last season.

One of the Bengals’ biggest issues was their offensive line.

Near the end of the 2019 season, Pro Football Focus ranked all the offensive lines in the NFL.

Unsurprisingly, the Bengals’ offensive line was ranked No. 30, ahead of only the Los Angeles Rams (who dealt with numerous injuries) and the Miami Dolphins (no surprise there).

According to Pro Football Focus, none of Cincinnati’s offensive linemen that played at least 500 snaps last year graded in the top 50 percent of the league.

That’s not a recipe for success. And if the offensive line play doesn’t improve, it’s going to be a long rookie season for Burrow.

The Bengals will receive a bit of a boost with the return of Jonah Williams, the former Alabama offensive tackle who was Cincinnati’s first round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Williams missed his entire rookie season with a torn labrum.

But while the return of Williams will help the Bengals’ porous offensive line, the franchise still needs to do more to protect Burrow.

Which is why I think there’s a trade to be made that could benefit Cincinnati.

Look, a team can never go wrong when they choose to invest in their offensive line. A good offensive line can mask a lot of problems. A bad offensive line can be detrimental to a good quarterback’s career (just ask Andrew Luck).

The Bengals would be wise to call the Tennessee Titans and inquire about right tackle Dennis Kelly.

Tennessee just signed Kelly to a three year extension, but they also drafted Georgia’s Isaiah Wilson with their first round pick in this year’s draft. First round picks are typically expected to start early. I don’t think Tennessee selected Wilson with the intention of sitting him behind Kelly.

In fact, Titans general manager Jon Robinson has already said that Wilson will compete with Kelly for the starting job.

Are the Titans going to pay Kelly nearly $6 million a year to be a backup?

Maybe. But maybe not if a team swoops in and makes an offer.

Kelly’s three year deal with the Titans doesn’t offer much security for the veteran offensive lineman. Tennessee can release Kelly after the first year of the deal with a cap hit of only $1.5 million. That would save the Titans a considerable amount of money.

But if the Titans trade him now, they could save even more cash. And Tennessee could use that cash in their continued pursuit of edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney.

(Tennessee also brought in offensive lineman Ty Sambrailo this offseason to be their top backup, which makes Kelly even more expendable.)

I’m not sure what kind of compensation the Titans would want for Kelly, but I imagine they’d take a mid to late round draft pick. If the Bengals can get a quality starting offensive lineman at that price, it’s a move that has to be made.

Is Kelly going to be a Pro-Bowl caliber right tackle?

Probably not. But he’s dependable. He’s solid. And he’s certainly better than current Bengals starting right tackle Bobby Hart (who had a 57.7 PFF grade last year, Kelly had a 71.0 PFF grade).

Cincinnati has to make sure Burrow is protected. And moving forward with the offensive line in its current state isn’t a sound way to keep Burrow from getting hit.

NFL GM thinks drafting Joe Burrow first was a mistake. dark. Next

Making a deal with the Titans for a veteran offensive tackle that a history of being a consistently solid player makes too much sense for the Bengals to not explore it.