FOXBORO MA - SEPTEMBER 12: The officiasl break up a scuffle between Andre Smith #71 of the Cincinnati Bengals and Gerard Warren #92 of the New England Patriots during the NFL season opener on September 12 2010 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro Massachusetts. The Patriots defeated the Bengals 38-24. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
+ During a posting on Wednesday that talked about Marvin Lewis' progressive attitude towards Andre Smith over the past three years, some readers questioned (well at least hinted at) why the team didn't pick up his extension last year. Essentially Smith signed a four-year contract in 2009 as the No. 6 draft pick with a two-year option that could be picked in 2011, extending it to a six-year deal. Cincinnati declined the option, making him a free agent after this season.
It's hard to predict the future and along with serious questions about his work ethic and durability concerns that still had to be answered at the time, when the deadline for the option arrived, it actually made sense for the Bengals to decline the option. It wasn't until after the deadline passed that Smith showed such a dramatic improvement. If Cincinnati had picked up the two-year option and Smith reverted to the 2009-2010 version, what then?
And that offers a second universal question. Was 2011 an aberration or the start of something sustainable? And it's not so much the resumption of a questionable work ethic. It's his propensity to get hurt. Yet we get it. Much of his injuries with the Bengals were at least partially connected with a questionable work ethic.
Those questions, we have to believe, are largely dissolved. He's motivated. Energetic. This team infected him with desire. Yet all of that came after the deadline for the option.
Should the Bengals sign him to a long-term deal? Well, that lingering partial connection second universal question could prevent it. At least for now. Perhaps evidence of sustained production and success rather than the history that's defined much of his career, bolsters that perspective. Until then, it's a question that doesn't have to be answered right now.