Signing Stacy Andrews to a long-term deal has become fruitless the past two seasons. And it would seem smart by Andrews and his representative to actually take a wait-and-see approach so the smoke of the personnel on the line clears.
For instance, Levi Jones has declared a difference of opinion with the coaches -- which, apparently, he's unable to get past over a year after said opinion made him upset. Willie Anderson is heading into a defining season. After suffering injuries that limited his participation in games last season -- missing nine games -- many suspect that Anderson's days are numbered and that Andrews will be the natural replacement. Bobbie Williams is signed through 2009 and scheduled to earn a base salary of $4.4 million over the next two seasons. The same goes for Whitworth, who will be a free agent after next season while Eric Ghiaciuc is playing in the final season under contract. There goes the middle of your offensive line while two book ends are either walking the line of retirement or just plan unhappy
However, the Bengals are just as wise taking a wait-and-see approach before signing Andrews to a long-term deal. I know that statement will infuriate the anti-Brown specific crowds. At the same time, they (anti-Brown crowds) could be right because a majority of my points include a lot of "if this, if that" kind of thinking.
Let's point out that 2007 was the first season in which Anderson missed a game in his career; so he shouldn't be written off in 2008. The thing about age and injuries is that it takes longer to heal. Anderson wasn't given that time through last season and never reached his maximum talent. Other than age, there's little reason to believe he'll repeat last season. If he's healthy, then I wouldn't doubt he'll outperform Andrews.
If that's the case, then the Bengals could let Andrews walk while adjusting their upcoming drafts with offensive line specific players to build their depth while allowing rookie offensive tackle Anthony Collins become the new guy to groom eventually replacing Anderson. That eliminates the need to dish out a healthy long-term contract to a lineman, among two other tackles that will average, at least, over $10 million against the cap through 2011.
Let me be clear, I still think the Bengals should work on signing Andrews long-term. We need to keep the integrity of our depth and plan on a post-Williams scenario at guard. In fact, I believe that Andrews should be a higher priority than re-signing T.J. Houshmandzadeh -- whose age, along with the argument that he could be demanding #1 wide receiver money, turns a lot of people off.
Getting both Andrews and Whitworth sealed in the long-run would be big for the Bengals -- both are talented enough to play guard and tackle -- and the team's long-term stability with a unit that's the most critical to the success of any football team, would be incredibly strong.
And you see what happens when they let Pro Bowl caliber players go to in-state rivals because they figure the value of the position is over-estimated (which it seems is every position other than quarterback).
The Big-Six is scheduled to account for $21,799,916 against the cap in 2008.
- Willie Anderson ($4,400,000)
- Levi Jones ($5,266,666)
- Eric Ghiaciuc ($1,033,250)
- Bobbie Williams ($2,925,000)
- Andrew Whitworth ($720,000)
- Stacy Andrews ($7,455,000)