The Cincinnati Bengals have kept a low-profile during free agency. They didn’t make the headlines by signing big name veterans like Reggie Bush or Mike Wallace. They were criticized by fans and media for the lack of moves. However, they were able to bring back most of the players that helped them reach the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1982.
Players who held important roles like defensive end Michael Johnson, cornerback Adam Jones and linebacker Rey Maualuga will return in 2013. But, despite the re-signings, the Bengals still have one guy they need to add to the list.
Offensive tackle Andre Smith has played well in the past two seasons and will play a major role for the Bengals in the future. He is a major cog in protecting quarterback Andy Dalton and will bring stability and familiarity to an offensive line that needs to improve. If the Bengals let Smith walk after a solid 2012, it would be a step in the wrong direction.
Smith, the sixth-overall selection in the first-round of the 2009 NFL Draft, seemed like a bust two years into his NFL career. However, in the past two seasons, Smith has shown he can be an anchor at the offensive tackle position for the Bengals. According to Pro Football Focus’s grading system, Smith was the second-best offensive tackle in the NFL behind the Denver Broncos‘ Ryan Clady, posting a 26.9 grade in 1,073 snaps.
Smith has hit his stride, and the Bengals need to get a deal done soon if they hope to continue to improve in 2013. Now is the time for Bengals Owner Mike Brown use his checkbook and make headlines.