Wharton was brought to Cincinnati last offseason via free agency in an attempt to upgrade the left guard spot. It was a smart move because Wharton had shown in the past with the Carolina Panthers that he could excel as a run-blocking guard.
Of course as fans will remember, Wharton went down with an injury early in the season and the team was left with Clint Boling as the starter, which turned out good or bad depending on who you ask.
According to Spotrac, Wharton is due $3.375 million in 2013 and 2014. That's simply too much money for Wharton, a man coming off a serious ACL injury at the age of 32.
The Bengals had one of the best offensive lines in all of football a year ago without Wharton's services, and it's hard to imagine at his age and weight (312 pounds) that he's the same player he was before the injury.
At least in Clint Boling you have a youngster at the age of 24 who is still developing and will be protected like he was last season by playing next to veteran left tackle Andrew Whitworth.
There's no point in keeping Wharton around as a backup with that kind of contract. Further hurting Wharton's chances of sticking around outside of his contract are the additions of two rookie offensive linemen the team added in the draft.
Ohio State's Reid Fragel is athletic as they come and has the versatility to act as a backup to multiple positions on the offensive line. Speaking of backing up multiple positions, Kansas product Tanner Hawkinson took snaps at all five positions along the offensive line in rookie minicamp.
Wharton is getting up there in age and costs a pretty chunk of change, while two promising rookies in Fragel and Hawkinson, along with their rookie salaries, could slip away.
Seems like a no-brainer.
As we hinted at, the Bengals certainly aren't hurting for money. At least not right now. However that all changes when defensive ends Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap hit free agency. It's also time to give quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green new deals.
In other words, the Bengals may need the cash more than you think to maintain what the front office has built.
To be fair, Wharton isn't a bad player. He's a victim of circumstance. Cincinnati doesn't necessarily need his services anymore, especially at that price tag. He's a nice veteran presence along the line to have in camp, but the cost isn't worth it.
Expect Wharton to stick around for at least a little while, but the sooner the Bengals cut ties with him, the better.
Chris Roling is a graduate of Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. His work has appeared on Bleacher Report, Fansided, The Cincinnati Enquirer and more. He is the co-host of a Cincinnati Bengals podcast, @BengalsCentral
You can follow Chris on Twitter @Chris_Roling
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