Bengals release veteran OL Travelle Wharton after one year
The 6-foot-4, 320-pound Wharton was originally picked up in free agency by the Bengals after signing to a three-year, $9.78 million contract in 2012. Wharton's release means the Bengals were able to save $1.6 million against the salary cap.
Wharton earned $4 million in the first-year of his contract, despite never appearing in a single regular season game for Cincinnati last year. He only played two snaps in his Bengals career, before suffering a torn ACL in his right knee during the team’s 2012 preseason opener. Subsequently, Wharton was forced to miss the entire 2012 season due to the knee injury.
Before suffering the knee injury, Wharton was slated to start at left guard. The majority of Wharton’s starts have come at the left guard spot during his NFL career, though he has also gained a good deal of experience at the left tackle spot.
The Bengals’ 2011 draft pick Clint Boling started all 16 games in Wharton’s place, including a playoff loss at Houston, and flourished at the left guard spot last season. Boling’s effects on the Bengals’ running game were such that the team ranked 18th in the league last season.
The team also selected former Kansas guard Tanner Hawkinson in the fifth-round of the 2013 NFL draft, and he had a strong showing in spring camp. That, combined with Wharton likely to start training camp on the physically unable to perform list, gave the Bengals incentive to part ways with Wharton.
Another factor to the Cincinnati Bengals’ decision was the depth on the interior of the team’s offensive line. With Kyle Cook and Trevor Robinson reportedly competing for the starting center job, whoever fails to win the completion will be the Cincinnati Bengals’ top backup at center and guard, per the team’s official website. This made the possibility of Wharton coming off the bench as a backup left guard highly unlikely, especially with Wharton having the team’s ninth-highest salary-cap number ($3.375 million).
The 32-year-old Wharton has also dealt with a few injury issues during his career. Before missing the entire 2012 season, Wharton sat out seven games in 2010 and 15 games during 2006.
However, if healthy, Wharton’s been a proven offensive lineman on the field and shall appeal to teams looking to strengthen their offensive line via free agency. Wharton’s versatility as an offensive guard and tackle, starting a combined 99 career games at the positions, is also a plus.
Before signing with the Cincinnati Bengals as a free agent last year, Wharton spent the first eight years of his career playing for the Carolina Panthers, who drafted him out of South Carolina in the third-round of the 2004 NFL draft.