NFL

Andre Smith Could Be a Big Steal in Free Agency

Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

It appears that the Cincinnati Bengals are prepared to move on from free-agent right tackle Andre Smith. Smith played extremely well for Cincy in 2012, ranking as a top-three free agent in many hot lists. However, since then Smith has been criticized by scouts calling him “highly overrated,” according to the National Football Post.

At 26, Smith was reportedly seeking upwards to $9 million a year with a hefty signing bonus. However, Sports Illustrated’s Peter King states, “teams fear what a big signing bonus would do to (Smith’s) desire.” As of right now, the only reported inquiry about Smith has been the Philadelphia Eagles back in early March. Since then, its been quite bleak.

Right now, it could be best for Smith to settle for a one-year contract somewhere and prove his worth. In a draft class that’s stacked with tackles, it could be his smartest move. If Smith truly has it out for the money, performing well in a one-year deal would surely increase his revenue for the 2014 season. Rhetorically speaking, imagine he exceeds expectations early in the year — he could get an extension mid-season.

Although beginning the first two years of his career with weight and injury issues, his 2011 and 2012 performances placed Smith as one of the best offensive lineman in the NFL. Known as a superior power-blocker, Smith rated as the fourth best offensive tackle in Pro Football Focus’ rating system. He also graded as the sixth best run blocker last season.

There is something about a player on a contract year that tells me they are going to play extremely well. An incredible amount of teams could use Smith’s assistance. As it looks, a total of 19 teams all have holes at the tackle position. Notable playoff contenders from 2012 teams include: the Seattle Seahawks, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans, Green Bay Packers and the possibility of re-signing with Cincinnati.

I don’t know Smith, but I do know an athlete’s mentality. If Smith can put up with the disappointment, sign for a lot less than his expectations and play with a chip on his shoulder — he’ll surely get a long-term deal somewhere.