The Cincinnati Bengals and right guard Kevin Zeitler have stopped negotiating on a new deal, according to Rand Getlin of the NFL Network. Zeitler is one of the top guards in the league and is entering the final year of a contract that will pay him $8.01 million this season.
It’s unclear why discussions have been tabled, but it’s possible both sides were far apart on a new deal. Many players do not like negotiating into the regular season, and with the Bengals set to open their season against the New York Jets on Sunday, there isn’t much time to get a deal done.
Cincinnati is recognized as a franchise that drafts well, but it has let some big-name, home-grown players depart in free agency over the years. Zeitler, if he doesn’t regress this season, will be looking at a massive payday on the open market if the Bengals don’t manage to get him extended.
The franchise tag would usually be an option in these situations, but the tag doesn’t differentiate between tackles and interior linemen, who typically get paid less. That means the franchise tag, which pays an average of the top-paid players at a position, is made up of salaries for top-flight offensive tackles and not guards.
Zeitler, 26, was the No. 27 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft out of Wisconsin, where he was a consensus All-American in 2011. He has played in 56 games since being drafted and excels both as a run and pass blocker.