The Cincinnati Bengals‘ Andre Smith was recently arrested at Atlanta airport, after reportedly trying to board a plane with a gun. Smith appeared in court before being released on a $3,000 bond. This incident couldn’t have come at a worse time for Smith, as he is entering free agency this off-season when he is expected to be the most sought after left tackle in the whole league. While there is still some process to go through to evaluate this incident, the Bengals will feel that they now have an advantage over other teams who may have been considering pursuing the player for various reasons.
Marvin Lewis and his staff will get an opportunity to contact Smith to hear his side of the story, because even though he is set to be a free agent in the off-season, he is still not allowed to talk to other teams. Other teams will have to wait until free agency begins to hear Smith out. Smith may be more willing to sign a new contract before testing the market because of this incident looming over his head.
The Bengals also better understand Smith’s character than any other team will be able to, no matter how in-depth their interview processes will be later in the year. Having overcome much adversity on the field throughout his short career so far, Smith has at the very least shown the determination to be a starter at this level. As outside observers, we have no way of knowing what his true character is. However, the Bengals coaching staff and personnel people will know Smith better than anyone, having spent so much time with him day in and day out over the past four years.
Should the Bengals decide that this is just an aberration in the path of a responsible young man’s journey through life, then they can still feel comfortable offering a new big-money contract. If they feel that this is only a sign of things to come, then they won’t be burned in free agency if another team takes him away for a massive price.
Free agency is always an unknown for teams acquiring players, but when your own players are hitting free agency, that does give you a familiarity advantage.