We're drawing closer to the franchise tag deadline of March 4, which precedes free agency -- the annual get excited for nothing to happen for your team on the first day event. As a result Andre Smith has been a focus this week at CincyJungle, ranging from Lucas asking if Smith deserves that big payday, despite questionable pass blocking to Anthony asking if signing Smith to said big contract is really a good decision.
I have a few closing thoughts on Smith and we'll let you breath as we Sports Trek our attention into other topics. Instead of presenting in the customary lawyer to jury presentation, I'm publishing a discussion I had with Josh Stankovich (who we call Stanko because I'm the only Josh) offline. It boils down to this:
The Cincinnati Bengals should let Andre Smith go into free agency unsigned and without the franchise tag designation. In fact he should be free to sign with any team that he wants.
Ah, no. HOW COULD YOU POSSIBLY THINK LIKE THIS, ALLEGED BENGALS FAN?
Stanko: Fourth-ranked tackle according to Pro Football Focus last year. It's not like those are flying around. When Whitworth is done we can move him to left tackle.
Josh: Let me ask you this. How much do you think Smith is worth?
Stanko: I'd say 5-6 years for $35-42 million.
Josh: Alright. How much do you think that he thinks he's worth?
Let's say Smith wants something in the neighborhood of what the top offensive tackles are making in the NFL (listing contracts of players signed through 2013).
|Jason Peters||LT||Eagles||Six||$60.657 Million||$25 Million|
|Joe Thomas||LT||Browns||Eight||$92 Million||$44 Million|
|D'Brickashaw Ferguson||LT||Jets||Eight||$73.6 Million||$34.8 Million|
|Trent Williams||LT||Redskins||Six||$60 Million||$36.75 Million|
|Jordan Gross||LT||Panthers||Six||$60 Million||$24.5 Million|
|Duane Brown||LT||Texans||Seven||$56.2 Million||$22.08 Million|
|Russell Okung||LT||Seahawks||Six||$48.5 Million||$30 Million|
|Michael Roos||LT||Titans||Six||$43 Million||$15 Million|
|William Beatty||LT||Giants||Five||$38.75 Million||$19 Million|
|Doug Free||LT||Cowboys||Four||$32 Million||$17 Million|
[NOTE: Position based on starts in 2012. Contracts via RotoWorld]
Obviously you noted the significant trend on the above chart, abbreviated as "LT" denoting a left tackle. Not that we totally highlighted that for you. Andre Smith, as you're keenly aware, is a right tackle.
Let's take a look at some of the top contracts for right tackles.
|David Stewart||RT||Titans||Six||$38.9 Million||$10 Million|
|David Diehl||RT||Giants||Six||$31 Million||$3 Million|
|Todd Herremans||RT||Eagles||Five||$27.1 Million||$11 Million|
|Anthony Davis||RT||49ers||Five||$26.5 Million||$15.954 Million|
|Tyson Clabo||RT||Redskins||Five||$25 Million||$11.5 Million|
|Eric Winston||RT||Chiefs||Four||$22 Million||$8.4 Million|
|Jeromey Clary||RT||Chargers||Four||$20 Million||$6.8 Million|
|Bryan Bulaga||RT||Packers||Five||$12.21 Million||$8.76 Million|
|Erik Pears||RT||Bills||Four||$9.8 Million||$3.85 Million|
|Riley Reiff||RT||Lions||Four||$7.99 Million||$6.5 Million|
Here's my thing. Smith is well on his way to having a fine career, distancing himself from the disastrous two-year doghouse that began his career. Since the NFL lockout and declaration to Andrew Whitworth that "he gets it now", Smith has settled down as one of the league's better offensive tackles. Yet he's not elite, he shouldn't be signed to anything near what the top left tackles are making. David Stewart's six-year deal with Tennessee worth $38.9 million is a good baseline.
If an unimpressed Ben Droga (Smith's agent) keeps pointing his finger upward during negotiations, let Smith walk.
No franchise tag.
Keep negotiations going, but allow the market to determine Smith's value. Not Droga and not Smith. It's not about going insane spending (not your) money on players just because they scored well on PFF. You're not paying for 2012, nor the three years prior. You're paying for the up-arrow attached to his name, the potential of a young tackle entering his prime and Smith deserves a fair value. But once negotiations surpass $50 million, our suggestion allows Smith to realize his value through the market while giving Cincinnati a good baseline to sign their right tackle to a long-term deal without the risk of overpaying.
It's a significant risk. You could lose him. Yet wouldn't paying $10-20 million more over his market value suggest others could be lost as well? Cincinnati isn't afraid to spend a little cash on a right tackle, evident by Willie Anderson's five-year extension worth $32 million in 2006. But then he was a three-time Pro Bowler that probably should have made twice that many all star games.
Not a problem. That's why the NFL holds this neat event each year called the NFL draft, where Cincinnati could retool right tackle using one of their first three picks, with the last being the 54th.
Cincinnati truly a strong bargaining position. Too much money? Fine. We'll address offensive tackle in a draft that's rich with offensive tackle talent. Might even watch Lane Johnson fall to No. 21. How harmonious would that be?
Just remember Andre Smith isn't the only cable right tackle in the NFL or prospect soon-to-be entering the league. They have a serviceable Anthony Collins for one more season.
There are times that we value our own a little more, simply because we like the player or feel enthusiastic about his growth (or because Taylor Mays is such a manly beast, how can one not demand more playing time).
+ Joe Reedy with the Cincinnati Enquirer suggests that the more "likely scenario is letting Smith test the market", at least to get an idea on how much an extension will cost.
+ A quick shout out to my long-time hometown Mason, Ohio, ranked by Neighborhood Scout as one of the safeties cities in the United States. I've lived in Mason most of my life and though the population surge exploded more than what the city expected, it's still a great town. And yes, it's town. But then I'm feeling nostalgic.
+ Ross Tucker with Sports Illustrated writes that Manti Te'o could face a significant drop during the NFL draft because many scouts and teams believe he's weak and lacks leadership qualities.
The reality is that it should affect how teams feel about him because it is darn sure going to affect how the guys in the locker room, their players, feel about him. But don't just take my word for it.
"I don't want him," one veteran scout from a linebacker-needy team told me, "Leadership is one of his big positives but he won't have that now because guys in the locker room are going to really be hard on him ... he'll be a target ...he's going to have to play lights out for a while to gain that back."
NFL locker rooms aren't like the rest of society. They're not politically correct and they're not any place for someone with a weakness, which is exactly what Te'o's incident is to many of them, a sign of that weakness.
+ Mike Florio notices that white wide receivers during NFL.com scouting reports are compared to other white wide receivers. In other unrelated news, Jordan Shipley didn't become the next Wes Welker.
+ Michigan State running back Le'Veon Bell told a radio show on Thursday that players have to say that they're straight to keep their draft stock. Colorado tight end Nick Kasa talked about the line of questioning he received.
Kasa told the CJ and Kreckman Show that, "They ask, like, ‘Do you have a girlfriend? Are you married? Do you like girls?’ Those kinds of things."
+ Joe Reedy's free agent report at tight end, wide receiver and the offensive line.
+ The National Football Post's Top-50 free agents of 2013.
+ In honor of the Horseshoe Casino opening in Cincinnati, the Cincinnati Enquirer published an essay about the history of illegal gambling in the region. Especially Newport, which was nicknamed "Sin City" because it was "notorious for wide-open illegal gambling as law enforcement and politicians typically looked the other way."
Long before the Horseshoe was a glint in the eyes of developers, this region carried out a passionate love affair with gambling. From the 1930s to the 1960s, Northern Kentucky experienced a sordid heyday that was recognized on a national scale until reform groups drove out the gangsters.
"Northern Kentucky was really your first gaming area, or Mecca, of the United States," said Jerry Gels, owner and marketing director of American Legacy Tours, which includes the Newport Gangster Tour. "There were more casinos, more gaming, more quality places than anywhere else in the nation."
+ Ohio's new texting while driving ban kicked into law on Friday. Anyone caught texting while driving (under 18 can't use mobile devices even at a stop light) can be cited for a minor misdemeanor, but can't be ticketed unless they've committed another violation.