Jackson Carman

OL Notes: Vikings, Bengals, Pats, Nijman

Garrett Bradbury suffered a back injury last season, and the Vikings center saw his absence extended after he aggravated the malady in a car accident. Bradbury missed the Vikings’ final five regular-season games but returned for the team’s wild-card loss. The Vikings circled back to the former first-round pick in March, re-signing him to a three-year, $15.75MM deal. That contract becomes a pay-as-you go accord after 2023, and Bradbury has run into familiar trouble. The Vikings ruled out the fifth-year center for their Thursday-night game in Philadelphia due to a back injury.

We felt positive about him, and he’s done everything and had no issues whatsoever through a pretty physical training camp for us to feel really good about it,” Kevin O’Connell said (via ESPN’s Kevin Seifert) of Bradbury’s back issue. “It’s just how this game goes sometimes, and he’s a tough guy, big part of the interior of our offensive line and we’ll hope to get him back as soon as we can.”

Austin Schlottmann, who returned last week after a broken leg ended his 2022 season, is set to start at center against the Eagles. Here is the latest from the O-line landscape:

  • The Bengals completed an unexpected transaction this week, releasing La’el Collins from the reserve/PUP list. The team had given Collins a three-year, $21MM deal to step in at right tackle, which he did for 15 games. But ACL and MCL tears ended his 2022 season in Week 16 and prevented him from starting this season on time. The Bengals have Jonah Williams at right tackle opposite big-ticket UFA addition Orlando Brown Jr., but Jackson Carman — who replaced Williams at LT in the playoffs last season — is not the top backup any longer. D’Ante Smith, a 2021 fourth-round pick, is positioned as Cincinnati’s swing tackle now, Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Carman has started two playoff games but lost three position battles in his three training camps. Viewed as a project coming out of East Carolina, Smith has played 56 career offensive snaps.
  • Reliability questions surrounded the Patriots‘ offensive line, and the team responded accordingly when setting its 53-man roster. Before Riley Reiff ended up on IR, the Patriots submitted an initial 53 with 11 O-linemen. No other team’s first 53 included that many, as Mike Reiss of ESPN.com observes. Only seven teams kept 10 blockers, though that is where New England’s contingent stands after the Reiff move. The Pats needed to use this depth early. Calvin Anderson, who came off the Pats’ reserve/non-football illness list late in the preseason, started at right tackle in Week 1. Guards Cole Strange and Michael Onwenu were out, moving fourth- and fifth-round rookies — Sidy Sow, Atonio Mafi — into the lineup. Onwenu and Strange have each logged two limited practices this week, though both Sow and left tackle Trent Brown suffered concussions in the opener, leaving their Week 2 statuses in doubt.
  • The Commanders, Packers and Vikings each restructured an O-line deal recently. Washington created $6MM in cap space by moving $7.5MM of Charles Leno‘s base salary into a signing bonus and adding three void years, per the Washington Post’s Nicki Jhabvala. Green Bay topped that by adding four void years to Yosh Nijman‘s deal, creating $2.54MM in cap space, ESPN’s Field Yates tweets. This proves interesting due to Nijman being on a second-round RFA tender; he is due to be a 2024 free agent. Minnesota added $9.99MM in space by restructuring Brian O’Neill‘s contract, per Yates.

Latest On Bengals’ Right Tackle Situation

The Bengals’ Orlando Brown Jr. signing created a crowded situation at right tackle, seeing three-year left tackle starter Jonah Williams begrudgingly change positions. But the former first-round pick is settling in at his new spot.

Williams rescinded his trade request earlier this summer, and Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic notes he is the clear leader in this tackle matchup. The top Williams competitor coming into camp, Jackson Carman, no longer appears a serious threat to start opposite Brown. Carman may now be battling for a roster spot (subscription required).

Although Carman lost two guard battles in his first two training camps, he fared better as Williams’ left tackle replacement in the playoffs. The former second-round pick replaced Williams against the Ravens in the wild-card round, after the starter suffered a dislocated left knee, and started against the Bills and Chiefs. But Carman may no longer be competing with Williams for the starting RT role; Dehner adds fellow 2021 draftee D’Ante Smith is pushing Carman for the swing role.

Smith has seen time at right tackle recently, moving over from the second-string left tackle role he had held earlier. With Williams in place as the top Brown replacement option, as the Bengals would slide him back to his old spot and move their swingman to right tackle, Dehner notes the RT2 role represents the Bengals’ top tackle backup. Viewed as a project upon coming into the league as a fourth-rounder out of East Carolina, Smith has played just 56 career offensive snaps.

Cincinnati’s right tackle situation will become more complicated when La’el Collins comes off the active/PUP list. Rehabbing ACL and MCL tears, Collins is a candidate for the reserve/PUP list but may also be a cap casualty. Given Collins’ experience, he would stand to generate interest from tackle-needy teams if released. Collins, 30, has not returned to practice. The Bengals were also not exactly thrilled with his pre-injury work.

As for Williams, he can create a nice free agent market with a good contract year. The 2019 first-round pick last played right tackle as a freshman at Alabama. Pro Football Focus graded Williams outside the top 60 at tackle last season, but the veteran blocker attributed his shakier form to not being 100% after a Week 5 kneecap subluxation. The Bengals and Jaguars discussed Williams before the draft, but Jacksonville took Anton Harrison in Round 1. No trade rumblings regarding Williams have come out since.

He looks like he’s been there for a few years,” Bengals offensive line coach Frank Pollack said, via Dehner, of Williams. “I’m impressed. He’s a good player. He’s athletic, he’s a smart player and he’s just grooving that power hand and that power foot, and my hat’s off to him. It’s really been a lot more seamless and smooth than I would anticipate for any guy.”

While Williams is going into a contract year, two seasons remain on Carman and Smith’s rookie deals. Collins is under contract through 2024 as well, though the Bengals would take on just $1.7MM in dead money by releasing him before September’s vested veteran guarantee date.

Latest On Bengals, Jonah Williams

The Bengals did not draft an offensive lineman, but the two-time reigning AFC North champions still have a potential three-man race for their right tackle position brewing.

Jonah Williams remains part of that equation, albeit reluctantly. The three-year Cincinnati left tackle starter — forced into a position change after the team’s Orlando Brown Jr. signing — remains with the team, and ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler notes no substantive trade talks around the fifth-year blocker transpired during the draft. As a result, Williams is expected to remain with the Bengals in his contract year.

Williams’ trade request surfaced shortly after the Brown signing, and the former first-round pick is believed to have been blindsided (no pun intended) by the Brown addition. The former Alabama blocker did not show for the start of Bengals voluntary workouts and cannot be fined for his absence until the team’s minicamp. With the 2020 CBA making training camp fines steep enough it has largely curtailed holdouts, Williams — assuming he is still on the Bengals’ roster by that point — should be expected to rejoin his teammates.

La’el Collins remains rostered as well, but the longtime Cowboys starter-turned-Bengals signing is coming off December ACL and MCL tears. No firm return timetable is known. Zac Taylor also said (via The Athletic’s Jay Morrison) former second-round pick Jackson Carman, who replaced Williams at left tackle when the latter suffered a dislocated kneecap during the playoffs, will be part of the right tackle competition. Carman struggled at guard, seeing Cordell Volson usurp him quickly, but Taylor including him in the tackle competition points to either Collins or Williams not being in the picture.

Collins’ three-year, $21MM contract runs through 2024, though his injury trouble and issues in pass protection last season led to the Bengals pursuing tackles in free agency. They had not expected to land Brown, but after the two-year Chiefs blindsider’s reps contacted the Bengals, talks progressed quickly. Williams, who has not played right tackle since his freshman year at Alabama, has one season — a fifth-year option, at $12.6MM — remaining on his deal. The Bengals viewed a post-Round 1 tackle addition as one that would only further cloud their already-complicated right tackle mix, Morrison adds (subscription required).

Five teams took first-round tackles, further limiting Williams’ market. The Jets still come to mind as a possible suitor, seeing as they were widely rumored to be eyeing Broderick Jones — before the Steelers moved ahead of them for the Georgia tackle — and have an unsteady setup at left tackle. New York rosters the league’s oldest tackle — in Duane Brown, who is coming off surgery — and has seen knee injuries sideline Mekhi Becton for all but one game since his rookie year. The Buccaneers, who cut Donovan Smith in March, could also be interested. They are not yet certain to move All-Pro right tackle Tristan Wirfs to the left side.

Right tackle-needy teams will likely be monitoring Collins as well. For now, however, Williams and Collins remain on Cincy’s roster ahead of what would be one of this year’s most interesting position battles.

Jonah Williams Trade Market Limited; Bengals T Blindsided By Brown Signing

Jonah Williams requested a trade out of Cincinnati shortly after the team gave Orlando Brown a four-year, $64MM contract. While many around the league view Brown’s best position as right tackle, the Bengals are accommodating the former Ravens and Chiefs blocker’s wish to play on the left side.

When the Bengals signed Brown, Williams learned about it like the rest of the football world did. The three-year Cincinnati left tackle starter was “blindsided” by the move, Kelsey Conway of the Cincinnati Enquirer tweets. The Bengals have talked about wanting Williams at right tackle, but Conway adds they did not communicate those plans to the former first-round pick ahead of time.

It is not exactly uncommon for teams to move forward with big-picture plans without informing players those strategies will affect, though franchises have made a habit of alerting quarterbacks to future additions at the position in recent years. The Bengals, however, did not expect to land Brown. The Pro Bowl tackle’s reps contacted the team, according to Bengals director of pro scouting Steven Radicevic (via The Athletic’s Paul Dehner Jr.).

Nearly three days after the legal tampering period gave agents permission to negotiate with teams, Brown remained unsigned. The Bengals entered free agency wanting to re-sign Vonn Bell, Germaine Pratt, Hayden Hurst and Samaje Perine, Dehner adds, noting the team viewed Jessie Bates as out of its price range. Bates signed a four-year, $64MM Falcons deal on the tampering period’s first day. Bell’s age prompted the Bengals to set a firm ceiling on his negotiations, leading the eighth-year safety to the Panthers, who later signed Hurst to what turned out to be this year’s top tight end deal. Perine defected to the Broncos for terms nearly identical to what the Bengals offered.

Brown’s camp showed interest in the Bengals on March 14; the sides agreed to terms March 15. Seeking a job on another contender, Brown said Joe Burrow‘s presence attracted him to Cincinnati; the Bengals will give him $42.4MM in the deal’s first two years. The upfront cash sealed the deal, per Dehner. The Bengals were looking at free agent tackles, Dehner adds, but initially eyeing lower-priced options. One of those coming to Cincinnati may not have led to Williams being moved off his starting spot without competition, but Brown’s pedigree will. As a result, Williams wants out.

Zac Taylor said this week he expects Williams to be back and partake in a competition at right tackle, a position the former has not played since his freshman season at Alabama. Going into a contract year, Williams wants to stay at his position.

We want guys that are willing to do to help us win games,” Taylor said, via Conway. “And I understand there’s comfort levels playing certain sides. Trust me, I played quarterback so I’m not going to sit there and pretend that I’ve got experience moving from right guard to left guard. I know that there’s some reps that need to take place to feel completely comfortable with that, but most of these guys have done it at some point in their career. So they’ve at least got experience doing it and that’s just the way it will go for us.”

Williams’ 6-foot-4, 305-pound frame was a factor in the team prioritizing the 6-8, 340-pound Brown, Conway adds, and Dehner notes Collins’ injury issues — which also included a back problem that prevented the ex-Cowboys standout from practicing on Wednesdays last season — and struggles in pass protection led to the Bengals pursuing tackles. Bengals O-line coach Frank Pollack has said the plan is for Collins to compete for the job, and Taylor alluded to former second-round pick Jackson Carman — a converted guard the team moved to tackle to replace Williams during the playoffs — being part of it as well.

Although an early report surfaced indicating Williams was generating interest from several teams, Outkick.com’s Armando Salguero notes no team has proven willing to send the Bengals a high draft choice for their hopeful right tackle. Williams is due $12.6MM on his fifth-year option this season. Teams like the Colts, Jets and Buccaneers would make sense as Williams destinations, but as of now, he is ticketed for what would be an unusual position battle with Collins, whom the Bengals gave a three-year, $21MM deal in 2022, and potentially Carman.

Both Williams and Collins are coming off season-ending knee injuries; Williams suffered a dislocated kneecap and Collins ACL and MCL tears. These maladies played a major role in the Chiefs prevailing in the teams’ AFC championship game rematch despite a gimpy Patrick Mahomes. Brown switching sides in this rivalry may lead to another falling domino, but as of now, no Williams trade is imminent.

Release Candidate: Jackson Carman

The Bengals fell just short of their first ever Super Bowl win this past year and many blamed the loss on a less than stellar offensive line. This issue is something that the Bengals have certainly been attempting to address in the last few drafts selecting four offensive linemen in the last two years and seven in the last four. One of those draft investments may be nearing the end of his opportunities, despite the fact that he is only headed into his second NFL season. 

In a recent roundtable discussion for The Athletic, Bengals writer Jay Morrison put forth the idea that Cincinnati may be losing patience with 2021 second-round pick Jackson Carman. The guard out of Clemson was brought in with the expectation that he would take over at right guard as a rookie. Carman was unable to unseat Quinton Spain and, perhaps even more concerning, was unable to provide an improvement anywhere on an offensive line that continued to struggle throughout the season.

The Bengals set out this offseason to nearly completely renovate their offensive line. The team brought in Ted Karras on a three-year, $18MM deal to start at center and signed guard Alex Cappa to a four-year, $40MM contract to start on the left side of the line. In a third big free agency signing, The Bengals were able to ink tackle La’el Collins to a three-year, $21MM deal to start opposite the only bright spot of the offensive line last year, blindside tackle Jonah Williams. Williams became an immediate starter for the Bengals after being selected 11th-overall in 2019 and, after missing six games due to injury as a rookie, Cincinnati was happy to see him start in every game but the season finale last year.

With four spots effectively manned for the 2022 season, that left only the right guard spot left to fill. Once again the door to a starting spot was left wide open for Carman. With a year of NFL conditioning under his belt, all the former second-round pick had to do was step in and not let the job slip through his fingers.

Yet, in the weeks leading up to the regular season, that seems to be exactly what we’re seeing, with reports that fourth-round rookie Cordell Volson seems to be pushing Carman out of the starting role. The lineman out of North Dakota State has experience playing both tackle and guard in college and turned heads early at camp. After impressing the coaching staff in practices and the team’s first preseason game, Volson was offered more of an opportunity to receive first-team reps. Carman certainly didn’t help his own case after testing positive for COVID-19 and granting more playing time for his competition.

The latest danger for Carman’s roster spot comes just after the 53-man roster cuts, when the Bengals made claims on three players, one of them being former second-round pick Max Scharping. Scharping has underwhelmed a bit, as well, in his young career, but has extensive experience over Carman after starting 33 games for the Texans.

Carman has lost two position battles in as many years despite the odds being stacked in his favor. His lack of ability to clinch either of those starting jobs could certainly have resulted in a loss of trust from his coaches. According to Morrison, if Scharping comes in and can quickly get up to speed with the offense, Cincinnati may have no need to retain Carman.

Latest On Bengals Left Guard Competition

The Bengals made a slew of additions along the offensive line this offseason, but one spot is still up for grabs in the build-up to the regular season. The starting left guard position has been a point of focus throughout spring and summer workouts, and will remain a battleground for the next few weeks. 

Jackson Carman, whom the Bengals drafted in the second round last year, registered six starts amongst his 17 appearances as a rookie, playing at both right and left guard. He earned a passable run-blocking PFF grade, but struggled in pass protection, leading to an overall grade of 56.3. While he was the starter at LG on paper following the draft, then, the door has been open to another name emerging to take the spot.

That contender has taken the form of fourth-round rookie Cordell Volson. The North Dakota State alum was named in May as the player who could displace Carman. The former’s performances in practice and the team’s first preseason contest has certainly caught the team’s attention, considering remarks recently made by head coach Zac Taylor.

“He flashes some really good stuff and it’s just the consistency there and learning from your previous mistakes,” Taylor said, via ESPN’s Ben Baby. He added that “by no means is that left guard spot solidified by anybody.”

Carman struggled, by contrast, in that preseason opener, and has now encountered another obstacle. Baby tweets that the Clemson alum tested positive for COVID-19 this week. The time he misses will give Volson further opportunity to receive first-team reps, as he already briefly had been prior to Carman being sidelined.

Cincinnati has left tackle Jonah Williamsalong with free agent signings Ted Karras, Alex Cappa and La’el Collins in place as starters along the o-line. The final spot could remain in the air up to Week 1 of the regular season.

Bengals Set To Complete Offensive Line Renovation

The Bengals fell just short of their first ever Super Bowl win in their third appearance in the league’s season finale. As the final seconds ticked away, analysts’ fingers started pointing, with many of them directed at Cincinnati’s lackluster offensive line. 

In their loss to the Los Angeles Rams, the Bengals fielded Trey Hopkins at center, Jonah Williams at left tackle, Isaiah Prince at right tackle, Hakeem Adeniji at left guard, and Quinton Spain at right guard. Hopkins and Spain are free agents, no longer on the roster. Adeniji and Prince retain their roster spots, but are no longer projected to start. Williams, perhaps the only bright spot on the line last year, will return as the blindside blocker.

The Bengals worked ferociously in the offseason to address their deficiencies on offensive line. They signed three free agent offensive lineman who are all expected to come in and start right away. Ted Karras comes to Cincinnati after starting experience at center in both New England and Miami. Alex Cappa comes to town after three strong seasons as the Buccaneers’ starter at right guard. La’el Collins is ready to bookend the line with Williams after years of starting experience at right tackle in Dallas.

With Karras at center, Collins and Williams at tackle, and Cappa at right guard, that leaves one position up for grabs. The current favorite to start at left guard is 2021 second-round draft pick Jackson Carman. Carman served mainly as a backup last year for the Bengals earning six starts on the year while playing in every game. The main concern with starting Carman is the fact that he couldn’t supplant any of the lackluster starters from last year. Perhaps with a year of NFL football under his belt now, Carman will blossom into a strong starter at left guard.

The other favorite to man the last spot on the offensive line comes from Cincinnati’s most recent draft class, according to Ben Baby of ESPN. The Bengals used one draft pick this year on an offensive player, bestowing that honor upon the 23-year-old tackle out of North Dakota State, Cordell Volson. Volson served as the Bison’s right tackle in his last college years, but had experience at all four guard and tackle positions during his time in Fargo. That versatility will certainly come in handy as many college tackles tend to move to an interior lineman position if they aren’t projected to dominate as a tackle at the next level. Volson is sure to give Carman a run for his money as the Bengals look to put the finishing touch on their full offensive line renovation.

All the players mentioned above are the favorites to contribute on the offensive line this year, but the following players will attend camp with the hopes of stealing a starting job. At center, Cincinnati also rosters Trey Hill, Lamont Gaillard, and undrafted rookie Ben Brown. At guard, the Bengals’ roster lists D’Ante Smith and undrafted rookie Desmond Noel. The only tackle on the roster that wasn’t already mentioned is undrafted rookie Devin Cochran.

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/15/21

Today’s minor moves:

Cincinnati Bengals

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

New York Giants

Washington Football Team

Bengals Sign Second-Rounder Jackson Carman

The Bengals have signed rookie offensive lineman Jackson Carman, per a club announcement. With Carman in the fold, the Bengals now have eight players signed from their ten-man class.

Carman, taken in Round 2 with the No. 46 overall pick, made his mark as Clemson’s starting left tackle. But, as a pro, the Bengals will shift him over to guard. It’s new territory for Carman, but it’s his best bet to see the field as Jonah Willaims and Riley Reiff man the outside.

Standing at 6’5″ and weighing 335 pounds, Carman already has an NFL build. Some scouts were unsure about his ability to play LT at the next level, but few could knock his natural ability. As a five-star prospect coming out of high school, he was was nationally known before he even arrived on campus.

With the fierce blocker under contract, the Bengals will move on to inking first-round wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase and third-round edge rusher Joseph Ossai.