The Bengals announced on Wednesday that they signed former New York Giants offensive tackle Bobby Hart to their offseason roster.
A seventh-round pick out of Florida State in 2015, Hart spent all three years of his career in East Rutherford. He did well for a late pick, contributing 21 starts in 33 games played. Set to turn 24 in August, a case can be made that Hart’s best football is still ahead of him.
That said, finding someone to make that case in New York might be difficult. He left the team on less than cordial terms, after allegedly refusing to play in the 2017 season finale. The Giants, of course, finished 2017 with a 3-13 record, after firing head coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese four weeks out. When the Giants hired Dave Gettleman as their new general manager, he moved to release Hart mere hours later.
League-wide opinion of Hart isn’t substantially better. He ranked as the 74th-best tackle in the NFL in 2017, per Pro Football Focus, with a 37.7 grade. The Bengals’ Cedric Ogbuehi (41.0), Jake Fisher (45.3) and Andre Smith (48.0) all finished with higher marks. Bleacher Report’s NFL1000 team ranked every right tackle to play over 20 percent of their team’s offensive snaps in 2017. Of the 49 eligible players, Hart ranked dead last at 49th. On a list of the five worst offensive tackles from either side, he ranked second – behind only Houston’s Breno Giacomini, one spot ahead of Ogbuehi.
The details of Hart’s contract aren’t out yet – aside from it only being a one-year deal. That said, it’s hard to imagine that the deal is in any way binding for the Bengals. By all accounts, this is a depth signing. Hart is already playing for his next contract, with the Bengals or otherwise. If he doesn’t play well enough to earn one in camp, the Bengals can cut him outright.
This move doesn’t preclude the organization from seeking offensive line help in free agency or the draft. It’s an educated gamble on a young player who was still waiting for his second chance.