Cincinnati Bengals offensive tackle Andre Smith enters free agency as an unrestricted free agent this March, after the team declined a two-year option prior to the 2011 season (which at the time made sense). Now after exponentially improving in consecutive seasons, even being graded statistically as the team's best offensive lineman (according to Pro Football Focus), the Bengals have a decision to make.
Extension. Franchise Tag. Move on.
According to Joe Reedy with the Cincinnati Enquirer during his offensive line analysis, Andre Smith's market value could average between $9 million and $9.5 million per season. The tentative franchise tag for offensive linemen is roughly $9.6 million, clearly around the suspected annual salary via Reedy. Except the franchise tag is a guaranteed number whereas an extension would have a significantly reduced cap number while not being fully guaranteed either.