According to Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, Cincinnati Bengals‘ free agent right tackle Andre Smith is not happy with the contract offer that his former franchise is sending his way. In fact, Smith’s agents are reportedly making it clear that they welcome offers from other teams at this point.
That probably comes as tough reading for fans of the Ohio based franchise, but it could also be seen as a reason to be positive. Smith has been the top remaining free agent in most people’s eyes for some time, so the fact that his agents have to work to create a market for him says a lot about the levels of interest in his services.
Smith entered this free agency period expecting to earn more than $9 million per season. Since that time, he hasn’t received an offer close to that number while the other top free agents at his position have signed on elsewhere for significantly less.
The overall value of left tackles isn’t as high as it has been in recent years, while very few teams ever invest heavily in right tackles. Arguably the top right tackle in the league the past two seasons, Eric Winston, has been released twice, and he is also still on the market. Winston is expected to sign for less than Smith primarily because of his age, so that also works against Smith’s potential new deal.
Obviously, the Bengals are in no rush to lock Smith down at this point. Even if they don’t re-sign Smith, they could still move for Winston, but would likely be happy with the pieces they have already got under contract. Couple that with the fact there are very few other landing spots for Smith that make sense, and the Bengals hold all the leverage.
Smith has some left tackle potential, but at this point his career appears set to stay on the right hand side for good. There are many, many teams who would love to have him as their starting right tackle, but there is only really one team who Smith fits with and who can afford to outbid the Bengals.
That team is the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins lost Jake Long this offseason and would likely prefer to find a new left tackle rather than moving Jonathan Martin from the right side to the left. Smith could feasibly be signed as a starting left tackle, but it’s a very unlikely move, considering the team’s setup and likely cap structure.
Furthermore, Smith’s primary contender for the final big free agent offer, Winston, has spent a significant amount of time in Miami already trying to work out a new contract. Smith hasn’t visited anyone to this point.
Making a visit to the Dolphins is something that Smith could likely look to do soon, but it would most likely just be an attempt to try and gain some leverage in negotiations with the Bengals. That is a similar move that Alex Smith made with the San Francisco 49ers last offseason.