Friday, March 8, 2013
Top free agents in the division: No. 4
By Jamison Hensley
Free agency officially begins Tuesday, so the AFC North blog is counting down the 20 best free agents (unrestricted and restricted) from the teams in the division. Let's continue with No. 4 ...
Bengals offensive tackle
Status: Unrestricted free agent
The good: Labeled a first-round bust after two disappointing seasons, Smith has admirably worked himself up to becoming the best right tackle in football. He's a dominant run blocker who is above average in pass protection (especially when you forget about his game against the Eagles' Brandon Graham).
The bad: Teams have to wonder whether Smith will have the same motivation after getting paid big money. There are questions about his work ethic and conditioning. His arrest at an airport for possession of a handgun won't hurt his stock but did raise eyebrows.
The bottom line: The Bengals would like to keep Smith after investing four years and a top-10 pick in him. But the Bengals allowed Smith to reach free agency after deciding to put the franchise tag on defensive end Michael Johnson instead. Cincinnati won't overpay for him because there are other good right tackle options in free agency and in the draft. Smith's return could come down to how much he wants to stay in Cincinnati.