The Cincinnati Bengals looked to bolster their interior defensive line last year when they signed Larry Ogunjobi to a one-year free-agent contract. But when they added B.J. Hill and he performed well for them during the season, the Bengals chose to re-sign Hill, who is now scheduled to start next to D.J. Reader.
Ogunjobi, who suffered a foot injury during the postseason, originally agreed to terms with the Chicago Bears this offseason on a free-agent contract, but the deal was voided after he failed his physical. That means he’s still on the open market—yet the Bengals are only talking about him in the past tense, even when asked about possibly re-signing him.
“We feel like Larry was one of us”, head coach Zac Taylor said recently, via Jay Morrison of The Athletic. “He was only here for a year, but what he did for us this past year was spectacular. I’ll always feel that Larry, in a lot of ways, is a Bengal for life”.
While he expressed a great deal of sympathy for the late-season injury that Ogunjobi suffered, and which is currently preventing him from finding a contract in free agency, apparently, that is about as far as the conversation has done: sympathy.
“Your heart breaks when something falls through like that. We’ve all been in touch with Larry since this happened, just to support him”, he said about the veteran’s failed free-agency contract. “Because again, he’s one of us. Even though he was only here for 10 months, he did a lot of special things for our coaching staff”.
A third-round pick out of Charlotte in 2017 by the Cleveland Browns, Ogunjobi spent his first four years there before switching to the other Ohio team. He started 16 games for the Bengals in 2021, recording 49 tackles, including a career-high 12 for loss, along with seven sacks, which also marked a personal best.
The deal that he had reached with the Bears was reportedly worth $40.5 million over three years, which was to have included $26.35 million guaranteed at signing. There has not been any news of his market since failing his physical in Chicago.
Ogunjobi played out a one-year, $6.2 million contract with the Bengals last season. Including incentives, he ended up closer to $7 million. Having missed the first wave of free agency, however, he may find it rather difficult to recoup the sort of salary that he is worth by the time he is healthy enough for a team to be willing to sign him.
He may have to sign another one-year deal in the hopes of finding better luck in 2023. But he’ll be 28 by then, and he probably won’t be coming off of a breakout season. His market value right now may never be higher, so it’s unfortunate his deal didn’t work out.