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Justin Smith is likely gone

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Most are assuming since the Bengals didn't tag Justin Smith that they're likely letting him go to free agency. Though there is still a chance at midnight negotiations, it would also appear very unlikely the two sides will come to terms. The team started negotiations early in 2006. The two side remained so far apart, that little, if any, head way was published. It would be safe to assume the distance between the two parties are still there. In fact, of all the unrestricted free agents, little has been said about Justin Smith.

Think he's jumping the price tag so he doesn't have to stay in Cincinnati while his home-state St. Louis Rams are looking for a "pass rusher" -- if their definition of a pass rusher is a two-sack superstar. Smith's rookie season (2001) still holds his career high for most sacks in a season (8.5).

If Smith is never characterized as a pass rusher, then the defensive end's perception goes up. He's versatile enough to play zone coverage -- mostly in the flats against tight ends or running backs. Smith had two picks his rookie season and he's good for between 2-3 pass deflections each year. Strong as an ox with a motor that would make John Randle proud, Smith's biggest problem in Cincinnati were the 10+ sack-sack season expectations.

The Steelers played with the idea of bringing him in for their 3-4 with Dick LeBeau quoted as saying he'd be a better fit in that system. Though I seriously doubt they'll pay his price tag if he doesn't drop his demands. The Rams and Buccaneers have also expressed interest.