Friday, February 15, 2013
Tag coming for Andre Smith?
By Tim Kavanagh
The offensive line was one of the strengths of the Cincinnati Bengals in 2012, as they were ranked eighth overall by Pro Football Focus. Four out of five starters remain under contract for 2013, the lone exception being RT Andre Smith, the former first-round pick.
Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes that Smith is the team's biggest offensive priority to re-sign, and he may be the recipient of the club's franchise tag this offseason. The Bengals are one of the teams with the most cap space this offseason, so getting something done under those conditions won't be a challenge in that regard. However, they'll want to work something out that is as team-friendly as possible, and therein lies the negotiating that will be done in the coming weeks. After speaking with scouts and personnel directors around the league, Reedy reports that a new deal for a player of Smith's ilk in current market conditions would average between $9 and 9.5 million per season.
As for the tag, the projected number posted by NFL.com for O-linemen is $9.660 million. Of course, the Bengals also count DE Michael Johnson as one of their impending free agents, and he may be the player they choose to tag instead. In fact, Rivers McCown of Football Outsiders believes he's the more apt target:
Rivers McCownTop 5 franchise tag targets
"While Geno Atkins deservedly got most of the hype for Cincinnati's massive defensive improvement over the second half of the season, Johnson was also an integral part of the renaissance. He leapt from 6.0 sacks in 2011 to 11.5 in 2012, a number he supplemented with eight quarterback hits and 13 hurries. Johnson's length and leverage was also a factor in the running game, and his lengthy frame makes him a perennial threat to bat down passes at the line at a high rate. The defensive end tag is steep at nearly $11 million, but the Bengals have so much cap space that they could use the tag as leverage to work towards an extension. With Atkins, Johnson and Carlos Dunlap, the Bengals have an impressive front line worth keeping together."