Cincinnati Bengals Should Sign Lineman Larry Warford, Analyst Says

Larry Warford of the New Orleans Saints is seen injured during the first half of a game against the New York Jets
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In order to round out what was a pretty positive offseason, the Cincinnati Bengals should sign free agent offensive lineman Larry Warford. In a recent article written by ESPN’s Bill Barnwell, the analyst explained why the team’s rebuild from a 2-14 2019 should include spending just a bit more money on the former New Orleans Saints player.

Barnwell explained the Bengals should be “at the front of the queue” for Warford because he’d be a massive upgrade over what it has now. The analyst said he understands the front office is hoping 2019 fourth-round pick Michael Jordan can improve after his rookie season. However, quarterback Joe Burrow is already facing question marks on the offensive line.

The analyst said that if the Bengals want the offense to work with a rookie quarterback, they need to protect him better. Barnwell added Warford going to Cincinnati would be a kind of a homecoming. The player went to college at Kentucky, just 90 minutes away from Cincinnati.

When Warford was first released by the Saints, NFL insiders expected him to find a new team in short order. Suitors willing to pay his asking price haven’t materialized. Not long after he hit the open market, the Bears reportedly decided they weren’t interested. It was thought the Houston Texans alone were going to chase him. Now almost two full weeks after his release, he’s still available.

If the Bengals do go after the lineman, it could top off what Barnwell feels was a very good offseason for the team. He has them ranked as the 12th best performers over the winter citing both the draft and their free-agent signings.

There were still some mistakes made, though. Among them, the writer pointed out the way they let former starting quarterback Andy Dalton twist in the wind. He thought the front office should have let Dalton go earlier in the offseason. Not because it could have landed a big return in a trade. Instead, Barnwell thought the Bengals should have cleared him out so they could go after a better backup. Now the team just has Ryan Finley and Jacob Dolegala behind Burrow. Finley was thought — very briefly — to be the future of the franchise, before showing that wasn’t a fair analysis and was benched toward the end of last season.

Barnwell also liked the defensive signings the Bengals made this winter, though he also thought they spent too much money. He pointed to the signings of DJ Reader and Trae Waynes as moves that improved the defense but will be expected to perform at levels they haven’t hit often in their careers. He thinks signing Warford could shore up the overall offseason performance heading into the 2020 season.