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Monday, April 1, 2013
What's going on with Andre Smith?

By Jamison Hensley

Cincinnati Bengals offensive tackle Andre Smith was ranked No. 4 in the AFC North's top 20 free agents in the division. He was considered the top right tackle on the market as well.

Smith
Then why is Smith still unsigned 20 days into free agency? It's obvious teams are leery of giving big money to Smith, who struggled early in his career and played better as it got closer to his contract year. It's legitimate for teams to ask whether Smith would be just as motivated once he gets a new contract.

Peter King of Sports Illustrated believes Smith's agents think the Bengals' current offer "stinks" and opens the door for another team to steal him. But another team could have had Smith for nearly three weeks and it hasn't happened.

With the amount of salary cap room that the Bengals have, they shouldn't lose Smith to anyone. Cincinnati has other options in free agency (Eric Winston) and in the draft (Alabama's D.J. Fluker and Florida State's Menelik Watson), but all would be a step down from Smith. The Bengals won't be able to find someone with the same athleticism as Smith, which is why he was a top-10 pick in 2009.

Smith reportedly was seeking $9 million per season when free agency began. He's not getting that now unless he hits the Ohio Lottery. What should Smith reasonably expect? Here are the agreements signed by the top three free-agent right tackles:

Gosder Cherilus, Colts: He signed a five-year, $34.5 million contract, which includes $15.5 million guaranteed and a $10 million signing bonus.

Sebastian Vollmer, Patriots: He signed a four-year, $17 million contract, which includes $8.25 million guaranteed and a $7 million signing bonus.

Phil Loadholt, Vikings: He signed a four-year, $25 million contract, which includes a $7 million signing bonus.

Based on those signings, the most that Smith can expect to get is just under $7 million per season.