It seemed as the 2013 NFL Draft approached, the ball was in the Bengals' court when it came to negotiations with Andre Smith. The right tackle, considered the best in the league in 2012, hasn't received a lot of attention from other teams and there has reportedly been concerns about his weight, work ethic and attitude. Due to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Bengals could easily select a new right tackle early in the draft and pay him much less over the next few years than they would pay Smith on a long-term deal. Smith and his agent know this and with the lack of interest, re-signing him seemed imminent over the last couple days.
However, there is "nothing imminent" on the horizon when it comes to re-signing Smith, according to Geoff Hobson. Since the first round of the draft is less than 12 hours away, many would think the Bengals would be looking to replace Smith, but head coach Marvin Lewis said a week ago, the team isn't going to go after a tackle just because Smith isn't re-signed.
"I don't think that's going to affect (it)," Lewis said last Friday. "I think the overall drafting (of) an offensive tackle if he's the best player even if Andre were signed would be something we would still consider. Because these players that we would be speaking of in those terms, I think it's good for the future of the team."
The Bengals are in the position to be able to take the best player available when they go on the clock instead of reaching slightly for needs. Luckily for them, the needs they do have -- safety, running back, offensive tackle, linebacker -- are deep in this year's draft, and with two second-round picks, they could easily find starters at several positions after the first round.
Since it appears the Bengals won't be signing Smith before the draft, they may want to brace for interest from other teams to pick up once the draft is over. There are several teams looking to shore up their offensive line, but there aren't an unlimited amount of good tackles in the draft. If a team doesn't get the player they want, they could look to grab Smith to fill out their depth chart.