It's been a topsy-turvy offseason for Bengals offensive tackle Jonah Williams. Not only has the 25-year-old been rehabbing after suffering in Cincinnati's playoff win against the Ravens last year, but he also faced a bit of a crossroads in his overall career. Williams had been the franchise's left tackle since coming into the league but was effectively replaced after the team signed Orlando Brown Jr. in free agency this offseason.
That signing led to Williams requesting a trade out of Cincinnati. However, the franchise has not acquiesced and dealt him at this point and it doesn't seem like that is on the horizon. Williams reported to mandatory minicamp this week and it does sound like he is embracing a possible pivot to right tackle and remain with the Bengals, despite the demotion and prior trade request.
"I'll be happy to be a contributor on a team where I have so many great teammates," Williams said, via the official team website. "l love everyone in the room, love the coaches, love the fans. I'm stoked."
For the Bengals, having Williams in the fold to give them depth is far more valuable than it would be to gain assets in a trade. That's especially true considering that starting right tackle La'el Collins is recovering from a torn ACL he suffered in Week 16. So, that leads Williams, who was selected by Cincy with the No. 11 overall pick in 2019, in an offseason competition with the likes of Jackson Carmen, Cody Ford, and Hakeem Adeniji for the starting right tackle spot to begin the year if Collins remains on the shelf.
As for his recovery, Williams said that his knee is "stronger than ever" but there is certainly an adjustment in how he plays now that he's transitioning to right tackle.
"As I'm coming back from my knee, I'm working with a lot of different moves in a lot of stressful situations," he said. "I'm incorporating my rehab into football drills working out of the right tackle stance.
"(The biggest adjustment) is re-learning everything for the other side of your body. Opposite stance. Post leg is your kick leg and vice versa and all that. It's nothing that reps and practice won't get me used to. … The last time I played right tackle was freshman year in college. There's a lot of technique to kind of unlearn and switch to the other side. It's my job. I love it. I've got a great coach, great teammates, and I'm grinding my ass off. I'm going to crush it."
The Bengals have the fifth-shortest odds to win Super Bowl LVIII at Caesars Sportsbook, but that will largely depend on how well the team can protect Joe Burrow. If Williams can make the transition to right tackle and Brown lives up to his contract, that should do wonders for Burrow and help Cincinnati another deep playoff run.