Cincinnati Bengals: Former Guard Bobbie Williams Signs with the Baltimore Ravens
The move comes at a time in which no one was certain of Williams' status. He broke his ankle in early
December against the Houston Texans and proceeded to miss the rest of the season. For a 36-year-old offensive lineman, recovering from such a significant injury is never a sure thing.
The Ravens decided to take the risk on Williams by signing him to a two-year deal, according to Pro Football Talk's Josh Alper. Scooping up Williams before anyone else could makes sense for the Ravens because they lost their elite guard Ben Grubbs to free agency.
Williams is nowhere near Grubbs' level, but he could do well in the Ravens' offense provided he makes a full recovery.
The Bengals were content with letting Williams walk for a variety of reasons. For one, they drafted Clint Boling in the fourth round of the 2011 NFL draft and hope that he can potentially develop into a starter.
Secondly, Cincinnati signed former Carolina Panthers' guard Travelle Wharton to start at left guard. Wharton is a significant upgrade over last year's starter Nate Livings, who was also allowed to walk in free agency.
Finally, and most importantly, the Bengals selected Wisconsin guard Kevin Zeitler with the No. 27 overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft. Zeitler is a talented prospect that will be the starter at right guard for the Bengals next season.
Add to these additions quality depth players such as Otis Hudson, and it is easy to see why the Bengals allowed Williams to walk.
Williams likely still believes he can play as a starter in the NFL, and he would not be one anymore in Cincinnati. In Baltimore he is more than likely the day-one starter.
Williams had this to say about his departure from Cincinnati:
“To the people of Cincinnati it has been an honor and a privilege,” Williams said. “I want to thank Mike Brown, Marvin Lewis and Paul Alexander for giving me the chance and I have nothing but respect for the organization.
“I understand we weren’t able to work things out and it was time to move on. The opportunity in Baltimore presented itself, I talked to my wife and we prayed on it.”
For Cincinnati, Williams leaves behind a legacy of being an integral locker-room leader that was both inspirational and demanding. He was a fan favorite, and that likely won't change despite his choice to join an AFC North rival.
Williams won't be missed on the field despite being an excellent run-blocker. He will be missed because of his veteran leadership. The knowledge and guidance he could have given some of the young offensive linemen on the Bengals' roster will be hard to replace.
In the end, the split between the Bengals and Williams makes all too much sense. Fans will have a chance to witness how the split plays out for both sides when the Bengals take on the Ravens in Baltimore on Sept. 10 to kick off the season.
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