The Bengals reportedly grabbed two of their top targets in free agency Monday when reports had them agreeing to terms with Tampa Bay right guard Alex Cappa and Patriots guard-center Ted Karras.
Multiple outlets reported a four-year, $40 million deal, for Cappa which began the renovation of the Bengals offensive line with what looks to their Opening Day right guard. About 90 minutes later word surfaced they agreed to terms with another vet who could start at either left guard or center. Karras, who turns 29 Tuesday, has done both the last two seasons for the Patriots and Dolphins. Both had Pro Football Focus grades at guard last season worthy of the top 25.
Cappa, who reportedly once tried to play with a broken ankle, has been bandied about as just the kind of "glass-eater," Bengals O-line coach Frank Pollack lobbied for at the NFL scouting combine earlier this month.
It's also the third straight March the Bengals have fired a salvo in the early hours of free agency.
NFL teams can't announce deals with unrestricted free agents until Wednesday afternoon and it may be beyond that because the Bengals don't announce them until the contract is signed.
Also emerging Monday were reports starting defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi agreed with the Bears on a mega, three-year, $40 million deal.
At 27, Cappa, like Karras, fits the parameters they seek in free agency: Young, an upgrade and on the rise.
A 2018 third-round pick out of Humboldt State, Cappa, 27, ranked 25th in the Pro Football Focus rankings this past season, already has 46 starts in his four seasons for a team that won the Super Bowl a year ago. Cappa didn't miss a start in the Bucs championship season in 2020 (when PFF said he didn't allow a sack), but missed the Super Bowl when he suffered the broken ankle in the Wild Card against Washington
Cappa, a noted down-hill run blocker, didn't miss a start last season, either, and played in both Tampa Bay playoff games, giving quarterback Joe Burrow even more postseason experience in front of him. In more than 3,000 snaps he's got just four penalties, none last year.
The Bengals staged their own Super Bowl run last season despite heavy turnover at right guard, where four different players started and that included two rookies. Hakeem Adeniji, a second-year player, started the last dozen games and four in the postseason. Cappa has been a starter since Opening Day of his second season.
Karras, whose great uncle is the late Lions great Alex Karras, was a sixth-round pick of the Pats out of Illinois in 2016 and has started 44 games the last three seasons at both guard and center. PFF had him rated 21st among guards.
It figures to be a heavily-focused next couple of days on the O-line. Before the reports on Cappa and Karras, Twitter reported Monday the Bengals tendered restricted free agent Fred Johnson a one-year, $2.4 million deal that's not guaranteed. Johnson can swing behind both tackles, but played in just five games this past season with one start at right tackle in the first season under Pollack.