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Friday, November 12, 2010
Andre Smith's injury and his contract

By James Walker

The Cincinnati Bengals have a lot of big decisions to make next offseason. But an interesting contract situation involving 2009 first-round pick Andre Smith is flying under the radar.

Andre Smith
Andre Smith broke his left foot for the second consecutive season.
Cincinnati drafted Smith No. 6 overall last year with hopes that he would develop into a dominant offensive tackle. But injuries, weight issues and an inconsistent work ethic have led to a disastrous two seasons with the team. This week Smith broke his left foot for the second consecutive season and is expected to miss the remainder of the year.

Smith played in just 13 games, starting five, and that's all the Bengals have on tape to decide if they want to pick up their team option and extend his contract for two more years. Cincinnati signed Smith to a six-year, $42 million deal that can be reduced to four years after the 2010 season.

It's safe to assume the Bengals will limit Smith's contract to four years. That would have probably been the case even before the injury. The difference is about $9.5 million extra in guaranteed money, and Smith has done nothing in two seasons to prove he should be paid more by Cincinnati. Many -- including the AFC North blog -- felt this was a bad draft pick from the start for the Bengals, and adding more years and more money wouldn't make much sense.

In addition to Smith, the Bengals (2-6) also have to decide on the future of head coach Marvin Lewis, veteran receivers Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens, cornerback Johnathan Joseph, tailback Cedric Benson and linebacker Dhani Jones. This team was built to win this year but has been one of the NFL's biggest disappointments, which means it'll be a busy offseason in Cincinnati.