The Bengals took a pause in re-building their defense Wednesday and tweaked their offensive line when they reportedly signed Cowboys' seven-year veteran Xavier Su'a-Filo to a three-year deal that makes him a leading candidate to be their fifth Opening Day right guard in as many years.
The reports of the agreement with Su'a-Filo came within a few hours of the release of John Miller, last year's starter. Miller is a reliable six-year vet, but at 6-4, 310 pounds Su'a-Filo has the kind of size and power Bengals offensive line coach Jim Turner covets.
During the last two seasons Su'a-Filo has backed up left guard Connor Williams in Dallas and in 12 starts impressed with how well the Cowboys line played when he was in there. The Bengals liked his most recent tape that showed the same type of power and athleticism he had coming out of UCLA when Houston made him the first pick in the second round. They believe he's particularly stout in pass protection.
Reports pegged the total deal at $10 million for an annual average of about $3.3 million, less of a hit than Miller would have given them on the salary cap. Miller had been due $1 million on Monday and had a bigger salary for 2020.
Su'a-Filo arrives with 53 NFL starts, the same as right tackle Bobby Hart and tying them for the most in the offensive line room.
Also competing for the right guard job is Alex Redmond, the 2018 Opening Day starter who began last season on an NFL suspension and ended it on injured reserve after playing just three games. Su'a-Filo also ended this season on injured reserve with a broken leg, but the Bengals have apparently been assured he'll be fine in time when they need him on the field.
The Bengals have yet to announce a deal pending physicals, but their three free-agent agreements are believed to count for about $23 million under this year's salary cap, on top of A.J. Green's $18 million tender and $8.6 million in restricted free agent tenders.