CINCINNATI — Cordy Glenn had no idea the Buffalo Bills were looking to trade him in the off-season. They pulled off a surprising deal when they found a team that's determined to upgrade its offensive line.
The Bengals confirmed Wednesday that they'd swung a deal for the offensive tackle, who becomes the key piece in the Bengals' biggest off-season project. Their offence finished last in the league last season in large part because the line couldn't protect Andy Dalton or open holes for the running game, which wound up as a franchise worst.
The Bengals confirmed that they swapped first-round draft picks with Buffalo as part of the trade. The Bills moved up nine spots in the first-round draft order by acquiring the No. 12 selection. The Bengals acquired the first of Buffalo's two first-round picks, 21st overall.
Cincinnati also acquired Buffalo's fifth-round pick (158th) for the Bengals' sixth-rounder (187th).
The deal was agreed to on Monday and became official two days later, after Glenn took his physical. The tackle had no inkling the trade was coming.
"I guess it's shocking," Glenn said during a conference call. "There were just like a lot of different emotions going on. It kind of came out of left field. After that, I was excited."
Glenn has been a Bills starter since being selected in the second round of the 2012 draft. He was limited to six games last year because of a left foot injury that eventually required surgery. He also hurt his right ankle. Glenn said Wednesday that he's healing and should be ready for off-season workouts.
When healthy, Glenn has been dominant in both pass protection and run blocking. He was part of a Bills team that led the NFL in yards rushing in both 2015 and '16.
Glenn has three years left on a $65 million contract and is due to make a $9.25 million base salary in the 2018 season.
"They want me here," Glenn said. "I think that's big, just to know you're wanted somewhere. It's a great situation for me."
The trade underscored that the Bengals — who don't often make such deals — are serious about trying to improve their line.
They took a huge gamble last season that tackles Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher — their top two picks in the 2015 draft — were ready to man both sides of the line. Ogbuehi struggled at right tackle last season and was moved to the left side, replacing Andrew Whitworth. Fisher was elevated to right tackle and got hurt during the season.
Like Whitworth, right guard Kevin Zeitler left in free agency, leaving two huge holes. The Bengals signed Andre Smith — who was recovering from major arm surgery — to take Zeitler's spot. It never came together, and the Bengals finished last in the league in offence for the first time.
Marvin Lewis got a two-year contract extension after a second straight losing season, but offensive line coach Paul Alexander was fired. Offensive co-ordinator Bill Lazor was given the job full time after taking over three games into last season.
Improving the line is the overriding priority on offence.
"Let's face it: In this league whatever kind of offence you are, at some point in the game it's going to come down to situations where they know you're going to pass and you've got to block the edge," Lazor said on a conference call. "So I think it's critical for us. I think it's a guy who's proven he can do it."
AP Sports Writer John Wawrow in Orchard Park, New York, contributed to this report.
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