November 19th, 2021 at 9:45am CST by Zachary Links
The Bills have signed offensive lineman Bobby Hart, per a club announcement. He’ll help fill in for right tackle Spencer Brown, who was placed on the COVID-19/Reserve list earlier this week.
Hart has managed to stick in the NFL for seven seasons despite being selected in the seventh round of the 2015 draft. The lineman started 21 games for the Giants between 2015 and 2017. He later started 45 games (out of 46 appearances) for the Bengals between 2018 and 2020.
The Bengals dropped Hart in March and he’s been making the rounds ever since, spending time with the practice squads of the Bills and Dolphins. The Titans also picked him up for a bit, using him in three games this year. Now, the 6’5″, 330-pound lineman is back in Buffalo with a chance to play.
The Titans moved on from two players today. The team announced that they’ve waived offensive lineman Bobby Hart and defensive lineman Amani Bledsoe.
Hart has managed to stick around the NFL for seven seasons despite being selected in the seventh round of the 2015 draft. The lineman started 21 games for the Giants between the 2015 and 2017 seasons, and he later started 45 games (of 46 appearances) for the Bengals between 2018 and 2020. Hart was released by the Bengals back in March, and he’s spent most of the 2021 campaign on the Bills and Dolphins practice squad.
The 27-year-old joined the Titans back in October, and he started a game for the team while filling in for injured offensive tackles Taylor Lewan and Kendall Lamm. Hart ultimately saw time in three total games during his stint in Tennessee.
Bledsoe joined the Titans as an undrafted free agent out of Oklahoma in 2019, and after starting four of his 14 games with the Bengals in 2020, he returned to the Titans (via the practice squad) back in September. The 23-year-old saw time in five games (two starts) for the Titans this season, collecting a single tackle.
As Matthew Fairburn of The Athletic points out, cutting Lewis came as a bit of a surprise considering the Bills’ lack of depth at cornerback. However, the reporter believes that today’s move is an indication that the team isn’t concerned about injuries to Levi Wallace, Dane Jackson and Taron Johnson. Lewis, a 2019 undrafted free agent, finished last season with seven tackles in five games (two starts). If he passes through waivers, he’ll likely end up on Buffalo’s practice squad.
On a busy Tuesday for offensive line transactions, the Bills added some potential depth. They signed veteran tackle Bobby Hart.
The Bills signed Hart to a one-year contract. A former Giants seventh-round pick, Hart spent the past three seasons as the Bengals’ starting right tackle.
Despite Hart’s seventh-round arrival, he has spent extensive time in teams’ starting lineups. The Giants used him as a first-stringer in 21 games in three seasons but cut him on the first day of Dave Gettleman‘s GM tenure. The Bengals scooped Hart up and used the ex-Day 3 draftee as a 45-game starter — including all 16 games during the 2018 and ’19 seasons — and signed him to multiple contracts.
While Hart has been viewed as a low-end tackle option for much of his career, Pro Football Focus did give the Florida State alum his highest career mark last season and ranked him 49th among tackles. In Buffalo, however, Hart would be ticketed for a backup job.
The Bills recently re-signed right tackle Daryl Williams to a multiyear deal and have Dion Dawkins entrenched as their left tackle. The Bills did enter Tuesday light on swing tackle options. Hart, 26, would make sense for such a role.
The Bengals released defensive tackle Geno Atkins, head coach Zac Taylor announced. Atkins was due $12.2MM in non-guaranteed money, so the Bengals took the opportunity to wipe that from the books. In addition, the Bengals are also cutting quarterback Ryan Finley and offensive tackle Bobby Hart (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). All together, the moves will save the Bengals roughly $30MM in cap space.
Atkins fought through a shoulder injury throughout the season. Towards the end, it proved to be too much to play with. He suited up for just eight games in total, and, even when he was healthy, he wasn’t happy about his playing time. His final tally: zero sacks and zero starts. It was a sharp drop from his pre-extension season in 2017, when he finished out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 2 ranked interior defender. The Bengals could have had the perennial Pro Bowler under contract through 2022, but his $14.8MM cap hit for 2021 was too much.
Last year, he watched his longtime counterpart Carlos Dunlap — the No. 1 all-time Bengals sack leader — get shipped to the Seahawks. It’s now the 33-year-old’s turn to exit. He leaves with eight Pro Bowls to his credit and the second-highest sack total in franchise history.
Hart, whose release will yield ~$6MM in savings, was long rumored to be a cap casualty. And, with Riley Reiff in the mix, his services were no longer needed.
The Bengals’ offensive line was a major question mark going into the 2020 season, and the fear was that poor blocking would jeopardize the health of rookie quarterback Joe Burrow. And then that fear became reality, as Burrow suffered a torn ACL and MCL in Week 11 and the silver lining of another lost season in Cincinnati was quickly tarnished. So, a year after Cincinnati committed significant free agent dollars to the defensive side of the ball while relying on its existing offensive linemen to develop, Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic says the team appears poised to reverse a long-standing trend and to spend big on the O-line.
Jonah Williams will remain the starting left tackle, but the other four spots are up for grabs. There is some hope that the return of O-line coach Frank Pollack will help left guard Michael Jordan, but after Jordan’s poor performance in 2020, it would not be at all surprising to see the Bengals pursue an upgrade (though the team has been historically reluctant to make major investments at guard).
The ACL injury that center Trey Hopkinssustained in the team’s regular season finale could mean that former first-rounder Billy Pricewill get one more chance to prove himself as a starting pivot, but again, after seeing Burrow writhing on the ground in pain, Cincy could seek reinforcements on the open market.
If the team does make a major free agent splash, it would likely come at right tackle, where Taylor Moton may be available. The Panthers might put the franchise tag on Moton, but if that doesn’t happen, expect the Bengals to be an active bidder for his services. Dehner also suggests that, if the team finally opens up its wallet for a guard, Joe Thuney would appear to be a perfect fit.
Whether it’s through free agency, the draft, or some combination thereof, Cincinnati has to do something. The club does want to re-sign Quinton Spain, who helped provide some stability at guard after he signed with the Bengals in October, and right tackle Bobby Hart is expected to be released, which will open up $6MM in cap space and a spot for a quality free agent. B.J. Finney, who came over from Seattle in the Carlos Dunlap trade, is also unlikely to return.
There is plenty of young skill position talent in the Queen City. With a couple of additions to the O-line, the Bengals’ offense could well be a serious threat in 2021 and beyond.
October 26th, 2020 at 3:29pm CST by Andrew Ortenberg
Panthers superstar Christian McCaffrey returned to practice Monday, which is certainly a welcome sign considering he hasn’t been out there since Week 2. While it’s a step in the right direction, it doesn’t mean McCaffrey will be suiting up for Carolina on Thursday Night Football this week. In fact, CMAC is a “long-shot” to play in their division game against the Falcons, a source told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link).
Mike Davis took over as the Panthers’ running back and got off to a hot start, but he’s since cooled off significantly and only had 12 rushing yards yesterday. As such, McCaffrey’s return can’t come quick enough. The Panthers are now 3-4 and desperately need a win over Atlanta if they want to stay in the NFC playoff picture. McCaffrey went down with a high ankle sprain in their Week 2 game against the Bucs and has been sidelined ever since.
Here’s more health updates from around the league:
The Titans lost their first game of the season on Sunday, and they also lost a key piece of their defense for a while. Rookie cornerback Kristian Fulton will miss a “few weeks” with a knee injury, according to veteran beat writer Paul Kuharsky (Twitter link). Kuharsky writes that it’s unclear if he’ll go on injured reserve, which would require him to miss at least three games. A second-round pick in April’s draft, Fulton has started the Titans’ last two games after missing one on the COVID-19 list. Tennessee’s secondary has already struggled mightily, so this is an unwelcome development for Mike Vrabel’s unit.
The Bengals have already had a tough time blocking for Joe Burrow, and Cincy fans everywhere were holding their breath when starting left tackle Jonah Williams went down with a neck injury yesterday. Fortunately, the “early indications” are that the injury is not “overly serious,” a source told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). Rapsheet says Williams may miss this week, but there is some optimism he could return after their Week 9 bye. The 11th overall pick of the 2019 draft, Williams missed his entire rookie season with a shoulder injury but had played every snap this year before going down.
Williams isn’t the only member of the Bengals’ offensive line banged up, as starting right tackle Bobby Hart also got hurt against Cleveland. Hart will miss this weekend’s game against Tennessee, head coach Zac Taylor announced Monday. Hart had also started all seven games this season, and now it looks like Burrow might be without each of his starting tackles this season. Given that he’s already been running for his life in most weeks, this could be a recipe for disaster.
The Seahawks also lost their first game of the season Sunday, and now it looks like they’ll be without starting running back Chris Carson for a while. Carson suffered a mid-foot sprain that will leave him week to week, Rapoport tweets. While Carson will apparently miss some time it doesn’t sound like anything too serious, and he shouldn’t be on the shelf too long. Fellow running back Travis Homer also got hurt on Sunday night, and we’re still waiting on an update on him.
The Cardinals beat Seattle on Sunday night, but unfortunately the recently signed linebacker Isaiah Irving suffered a serious injury and had to be carted off. Irving suffered a back injury that will likely sideline him for the rest of the season, a source told Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Signed off Denver’s practice squad a couple of weeks ago, Irving was in his first game with the Cards and was only playing on special teams, so this won’t have too much impact on Arizona’s defense. Hopefully Irving is able to make a swift and full recovery.
Irving wasn’t the only Cardinal to go down. Starting running back Kenyan Drake hurt his ankle, and he’s going to miss some time. Drake will miss a few weeks with a slight ligament tear in his ankle, a source told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Chase Edmonds, the highly talented change of pace back, will now get a chance to shine in Drake’s absence. Fortunately Arizona has a bye in Week 8, which will reduce the number of games Drake has to miss. Schefter adds that the team is treating the ligament issue essentially like a high ankle sprain.
Chargers tight end Virgil Green came down with a crucial touchdown in Los Angeles’ win over the Jaguars, but unfortunately he hurt himself on the play. Green will miss several weeks with a lateral ankle sprain, Rapoport tweets, and he’s a candidate for injured reserve. The Chargers still have Hunter Henry of course, but this is a significant blow as they like to run multiple tight end sets. Second-year UDFA from Stetson Donald Parham also caught a touchdown from Justin Herbert on Sunday, and should be in line for more playing time moving forward. Green, in his third season with the Chargers, has always been more of a blocker than receiver during his ten-year career.