NBC’s Pro Football Talk reported this morning that the Cincinnati Bengals may be looking to draft a right tackle with the 21st pick of the draft.
Perhaps the greatest right tackle in the league last season, Andre Smith is looking to be paid likewise, but unfortunately for him that year of stellar play proceeded a few years of unreliability, injury and weight issues that have left the Bengals with a poor taste in their mouth and an unwillingness to give him what he is looking for.
According to reports, Smith is looking to be paid around $9 million a year, making him by far the highest paid right tackle in the league and creeping in on left tackle money. The Bengals however, are looking around the $6-7 million mark and the sides don’t seem to be able to come to an agreement. With no interest from other teams, Smith does not have a leg to stand on but he still seems to be holding out anyway, leading to what is now being reported to be the Bengals leaving the table and looking for a younger model.
The Bengals have two options here: The first is that former Kansas City Chiefs right tackle Eric Winston is still available in the free agency pool and will certainly be able to be signed for no more than half what Smith was looking for. The Chiefs decided to part ways with him in an effort to free up some cap space.
Alternatively, Florida State offensive tackle Menelik Watson should be available still by pick 21 of this year’s NFL Draft and if not, Kyle Long from Oregon State will probably still be available with the Bengals’ second second-round pick (53rd.) Long was excellent at opening running lanes for Oregon running back Kenjon Barner and protecting his quarterback in 2012 and would make an ideal tackle and a much cheaper, more reliable option to replace Smith.
The pressure is now on for Smith to come back with his tail between his legs and take a smaller contract now so that he can play for the future career contract he deserves.
Simon Greene – Cincinnati Bengals Writer. Follow Simon on Twitter @simongreene88