Browns signing Zeitler to big money deal; Bengals announce re-signing of LaFell
CINCINNATI (WKRC) - In the span of about five hours on Thursday the Bengals lost their two best offensive linemen to other teams via free agency.
Sources confirmed that guard Kevin Zeitler will sign with the Cleveland Browns. ESPN's Adam Schefter is reporting the deal will be for five years and worth $60 million with $31.5 million guaranteed, which be the highest for any guard in NFL history.
It was thought that the Bengals were not going to try to re-sign Zeitler, because the cost would be too high, but that they would be able to retain Whitworth.
It was reported on Wednesday that Jacksonville was in the running for Zeitler along with the Browns and Indianapolis Colts.
Zeitler will now be reunited with former Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, who is Cleveland's head coach.
The loss of Whitworth and Zeitler means the Bengals starting offensive line right now would be Cedric Ogbuehi at left tackle, Clint Boling at left guard, Russell Bodine at center, T.J. Johnson likely at right (he was given a tender offer by the Bengals on Tuesday because he is a restricted free agent) and Jake Fisher at right tackle.
It's likely now that the Bengals spend an early pick or two on offensive linemen in the draft.
The Bengals did announce that they have officially re-signed wide receiver Brandon LaFell, who was set to become an unrestricted free agent . He signed a two-year contract worth roughly $10 million.
LaFell joined the Bengals in 2016 as a free agent. He played in 16 games, with 14 starts and finished second on the team in receptions (64), receiving yards (862) and touchdowns (six).
“Brandon was very uplifting both on and off the field, mentoring young players and adding productive, quality plays to the offense, both in catching the football and as a blocker,” said head coach Marvin Lewis in a statement from the team. “We’re excited to have him back with us.”
“My family and I are extremely happy to be back in Cincinnati,” said LaFell in a statement from the team. “Thanks to the Brown family, Coach Lewis and the coaching staff for giving me the opportunity to continue my career in the Jungle. Who Dey!”