With Michael Johnson getting the franchise tag, the Bengals will have to pay Smith or let him walk out the door.
Today, PFT reported that Smith is looking for $9 million a year. Unless Mike Brown falls and bangs his head, Smith won't get it in Cincinnati.
The Bengals opted out of paying Smith his $4.75 million option bonus in 2011, meaning he'll hit free agency shortly.
At this year's combine, Marvin Lewis gave us a clue that he was planning for a potential Smith departure:
I don't have enough information to give you an early look at anything, I've watched eight players, Lewis said. I don't have enough look to tell you much at all. From what I've seen, where I got started, I'd say there seems to be some very talented offensive tackles and offensive line position. People have told me there's some talented defensive players, but I haven't gotten that far yet.
Andre Smith may have graded out as the best right tackle and fourth overall tackle in 2012, but questions remain.
Given his past, can he be trusted to perform once he gets paid? Was he just playing for a big deal in 2012? Is he even worth the trouble?
Let's not forget his most recent PR disaster. Back in January, Smith was arrested in an Atlanta airport with a loaded .380 pistol in a carry-on bag.
The Bengals will likely continue to negotiate with Smith but the conclusion seems set.
Marvin Lewis and the Bengals have to be confident in finding a good replacement. New additions Kevin Zeitler and Clint Boling have had real success early, playing to a high-level.
Cincinnati is in a good place to add more talent to the line at the top-end of the draft.
That means 'Big Smitty' could very well be playing elsewhere in 2013.
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