The Bengals and Andre Smith are reportedly working to come to an agreement on a long-term deal as the NFL enters the third week of free agency. Aside from Michael Johnson, Smith is the team's most important free agent to sign as he anchored the right side of the team's offensive line and was the Bengals' best overall lineman.
Smith reportedly was looking for a contract that would pay him something around $9 million a year just before free agency opened, but now that he's one of the only tackles left on the market, it's clear he's not going to get that much. The Cincinnati Enquirer's Joe Reedy made a prediction based on other free agency signing on Tuesday, saying that the best deal for both the Bengals and for Smith would be something around a four-year deal worth $26-$27 million with $7-$8 million guaranteed.
The top offensive tackle to hit free agency was Jake Long, who signed a deal with the St. Louis Rams. According to Reedy, his deal is the ceiling of the free agent tackle market.
Jake Long's deal with the Rams is worth $34 million over four years, which makes the average per year $8.5 million. All but $14 million of it is guaranteed. The only part that isn't is his base salary of $8.75 million in 2016 and more than half of his 2015 base ($5.25 million of the $9.25 million base isn't guaranteed). Long got a signing bonus of $5 million.
That would make the floor Sebastian Vollmer's deal signed with the New England Patriots. Vollmer's deal, according to Reedy, is four years and $17 million with $8.25 million guaranteed. With incentives, though, his deal could go up to $27 million. His average per year would start at $4.25 million but could go up to $6.75 million.
Smith, along with Long and Vollmer are represented by Ben Dogra of CAA, which means that Smith's agent has set the ceiling and floor for the free agent market for offensive tackles. Smith's will likely fall somewhere in the middle of the market and sign a contract similar to those of Gosder Cherilus, Phil Loadholt and possibly be somewhere around Andrew Whitworth's five-year extension he signed with the team in 2011, though the market on Smith hasn't been huge so the Bengals seem to have the majority of the power in negotiating.
Reedy does believe a deal will get done, though, as long as there isn't a "mystery team."
I still think a deal with Smith gets done. For both parties, the sooner the better considering that there are still some free agents left on the market that could help this team and come in on a 1-year deal. Offseason workouts begin on April 15 and the Bengals like having their veteran free agent signings done by then.