BB: It's Not A Back-Breaker If Cincinnati Loses Smith And Newman

The Cincinnati Bengals have two free agents remaining that they've prioritized. What happens if they can't sign both players?

+ LACK OF SMITH MARKET HELPS BENGALS: There's a feeling that the Cincinnati Bengals will have decisions to make, or at the very least being made, on an unexpected snowy Monday. Not significant decisions. Cincinnati doesn't make those. But ones that assist in the team's roster development.

Andre Smith, represented by Ben Dogra and CAA, who with Tom Condon worked out a deal for Elvis Dumervil in Baltimore, remains unsigned. Cornerback Terence Newman tweeted Sunday afternoon (we're thinking more joking than seriousness), that he can't find his agent to complete the deal.

What deal? Has he decided?

Smith and Newman remain priorities that the Cincinnati Bengals are actively pursuing. Newman is deciding between the Raiders and Bengals while Smith is facing resistance from what we believe is a disagreement regarding market value. Smith reportedly believes he's worth $9 million per season; clearly the Bengals do not, watching as a general market for a good right tackle (not great) hovers around the rough estimate of $6-7 million. Since the Bengals aren't negotiating against other NFL teams that we know of, Cincinnati can take their time with an advantage.

Sebastian Vollmer reportedly agreed to terms on a four-year deal with the Patriots, leaving Eric Winston, Jammal Brown, Bryant McKinnie, Jason Smith and Max Starts among other names available. We believe that Smith isn't viewed as significantly superior than those free agents, therefore limiting interest from other teams; many of whom suspect that Smith will re-sign with Cincinnati anyway, so why bother?

+ A LOSS BUT HOW MUCH? Terence Newman recovered and maybe even extended his career with Cincinnati last season, holding opposing quarterbacks to a 79.3 passer rating against receivers he covered. He picked off Peyton Manning twice (his only interceptions that year) and during 12 of 16 games he played last season (including the postseason), Newman held opposing receivers to under five receptions.

Newman had a good season.

In our opinion, if the 34-year old leaves for Oakland on what we suspect is a multi-year offer, it won't be a significant loss. Cincinnati has agreed to terms with the younger (and equally effective) Adam Jones and Dre Kirkpatrick is entering his second season after a red shirt rookie season.

There's your three "starting" cornerbacks but after that, the roster fills in with names like Jason Allen, Shaun Prater and Brandon Ghee. None are bad cornerbacks but we know very little about what they bring to the Bengals. Allen is a frustration for Bengals fans, but largely because of his contract in relation to playing time -- not that it mattered because he was buried on a talent-rich depth chart. Don't expect him to be released if Newman leaves. Additionally if Cincinnati feels comfortable with rookies and the inexperienced, it will lesson their aggression to sign Newman, despite making it known that he was a priority.

If Newman picks the Raiders:

  1. Leon Hall
  2. Adam Jones
  3. Dre Kirkpatrick
  4. Jason Allen
  5. Shaun Prater
  6. Brandon Ghee

It's not a horror story if Cincinnati loses their sixth free agent since early March. At this stage Newman would be a luxury, but would he bury Kirkpatrick's development? Yes. For a head coach spewing an acid-tongue last week about youth > veterans, it would almost be a surprise if Newman returns only to negate another season for Kirkpatrick.

Smith would be a loss, but not so much that Cincinnati doesn't recover immediately. Anthony Collins, with starting experience and quality performances when asked to play, is serviceable. Cincinnati has three selections within the first 53 picks, so they can draft and develop Smith's replacement beyond 2013. Though obviously the situation would be richer if Cincinnati isn't forced to draft a tackle, the universe won't collapse on itself with The Big Crunch.

Either way. Cincinnati has the advantage with both players right now and they know it.

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