CINCINNATI — The longest-tenured member of the Bengals’ offensive line is seeking a trade.
Offensive tackle Jonah Williams has expressed his desire to be traded, a source confirmed to ESPN on Friday. The request comes after four-time Pro Bowl tackle Orlando Brown Jr. agreed to terms with the Bengals earlier in the week.
Williams, the Bengals’ first-round selection in 2019, has been their primary starter since he arrived. But his position as the team’s anchor on the left side of the line appeared to be supplanted after Cincinnati landed Brown on a four-year, $64 million deal that included a $31 million signing bonus.
In a recent interview with the Bengals radio team, offensive line coach Frank Pollack said that’s where Brown will play in Cincinnati.
“He’s going to be our left tackle,” Pollack said.
The Cincinnati assistant also referenced competition at right tackle, where Williams is currently slotted to play. La’el Collins, last year’s right tackle, suffered a torn ACL in the Bengals’ Week 16 win over the New England Patriots last season. Cincinnati also signed Cody Ford, a former second-round pick, on a one-year deal.
Williams’ trade request, which was first reported by NFL Network, came less than 36 hours after Brown committed to the Bengals and less than a day after Ford’s signing was announced.
After missing his entire first season with a torn labrum, Williams has started 42 games over the past three seasons. He started every regular-season game in 2022 despite suffering a dislocated right kneecap in Week 5 against the Baltimore Ravens. He suffered the same injury in his left knee during Cincinnati’s wild-card win over Baltimore, which forced him to miss the next two postseason games.
Williams has been the Bengals’ best perimeter pass blocker in each of the past three seasons. As a tackle, he has led the Bengals in pass block win rate, an ESPN metric powered by NFL Next Gen Stats. He ranked 50th in that category in 2021 but dropped to 55th last season. Brown ranked 18th in pass block win rate as a left tackle for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Williams is set to play on the fifth-year option of his rookie deal, which is worth $12.6 million. That salary ranks 63rd among offensive tackles, according to the Roster Management System.
At the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin deferred questions about moving Williams to right tackle to the coaching staff. Tobin had praise for how Williams played in 2022.
“We picked up the option,” Tobin said Feb. 28. “He’s gonna be with us. We think he’s a very good offensive lineman, very good left tackle. When you play tackle in this league, you’re never gonna be perfect.”