During Tuesday's session with the local media, Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis described Andre Smith's contract negotiations as improving, saying that the "sun is emerging maybe", hopeful that a deal is completed prior to Thursday's first-round.
According to a source, one of the biggest hang-ups could be related to a general worry that Smith will revert to the poor work ethic that characterized his first two seasons in the NFL career. An issue that the Bengals are keenly aware of. During negotiations as a rookie, the Bengals placed a weight benchmark that would cost Smith a paycheck if he listed over 350 pounds. Additionally Cincinnati declined a two-year option prior to 2011 that would have kept him signed through 2014.
That being said, Cincinnati appears to be wanting a similar "out" if he reverts to "old Smith". Once the team feels protected against Smith's weight issues and work ethic, there's a feeling that a contract could be signed relatively soon.
It makes sense. Despite the obvious observation that other teams haven't made public overtures for Smith, concerned that a significant contract will hinder motivation to keep his weight in check, the Bengals (and anyone else) would be fools to blindly sign Smith without an option to terminate his contract with limited consequences.