After meeting for over four hours on Sunday, no progress was made in negotiations between the Bengals and Alvin Keels because "the ship has sailed on the slotting system." The Bengals are offering nearly $12 million less than what the Smith camp has reportedly demanded. On Sunday night, Keels offered nothing more.
"That's all I'm going to say," said Keels as he prepared to board a plane Sunday night. "I guess we'll keep talking."
What the hell are the Bengals thinking? One could argue that the Bengals -- accidentally of course -- are more than willing to against the grain to do what they feel is necessary. Has their actions and positions forecasted into possible resolutions of outstanding league issues? Consider this. Mike Brown was one of two owners that rejected the current Collective Bargaining Agreement in 2006. Two years later, the other 30 owners followed suit.
Chad Ochocinco demanded a trade and spent most of last year's offseason promoting his desire to anyone that would listen. The Bengals dealt with it, even forgoing a trade proposal from the Washington Redskins for a 2008 first-round pick and a conditional third-round pick the following year that many people still believe was a mistake to pass up on -- me included. In the end, the Bengals refused to do what most teams do. While it might not be indirectly connected, you're seeing the Denver Broncos take the same position -- refusing to act on the whims of a diva wide receiver.
The top ten rookie contracts in the NFL are, by in large, ridiculous. Unproven kids beating proven, and good, veterans at their respective positions, should never happen. It's not like teams are battling other teams for that rookie's services. Mike Brown says to hell with the slotting system; you're a rookie and we'll pay you what we feel is fair. The other 31 teams have nothing to do with this. While Brown's position isn't one of isolation -- many owners, veteran players and even those in the Commissioner's office have spoken about rookie contracts -- he is the first, and likely will be on the only, owner to act on this widely popular impulse.
But the reality is this. There is a slotting system. And Andre Smith's representative wants his client to be slotted fairly, like the rest of the first round picks. If you're not going to adhere to the slotting system, then you're not going to get your draft pick signed. And if you do get him signed, he might be disgruntled enough to be a distraction, knowing that he got screwed financially to what the sixth overall pick would have received if selected by another team. The argument against that of course is that if it wasn't the Bengals selecting sixth overall, he wouldn't have been in the top-ten, with guys like Eugene Monroe and Michael Oher available who didn't set off the red-flag warnings Smith did.
Furthermore, you have to believe that anyone that has direct financial dealings with the Bengals, are observing this; which compounds an already fragile perception that others have of Cincinnati.
So the question of the day is this. Who do you support more? Andre Smith for only wanting a fair deal based on the current slotting culture? Or Mike Brown for looking to disrupt the slotting system?