The Cincinnati Bengals have officially announced that former first round draft pick Andre Smith is signing with the team. The offensive tackle left Cincinnati in 2016 to sign with the Minnesota Vikings. He was originally drafted by the Bengals in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft and spent all years of his NFL career, other than 2016, with the team.
Smith is expected to be the front-runner for the starting right guard spot in 2017, after Kevin Zeitler left the Bengals in free agency. Smith has never played a snap at right guard, but, will likely be practicing in that role this spring.
The Bengals' starting offensive line for 2017 is expected to be:
Left tackle: Cedric Ogbuehi
Left guard: Clint Boling
Center: Russell Bodine
Right guard: Andre Smith
Right tackle: Jake Fisher
This could change as Christian Westerman and T.J. Johnson will be among Smith's competition at right guard and the Bengals will surely add to the offensive line in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Smith originally left the Bengals during the 2016 offseason as the team was hoping Ogbuehi could take over his job as the starting right tackle. That experiment failed as he ended up benched and having his position moved to left tackle, where he served as a backup (and started one game) at the end of the season. With Andrew Whitworth signing with the Rams, Ogbuehi is being thrust into a starting job once again, now at the most important position on the line.
Smith will add a veteran presence to the Bengals' offensive line and actually has the most experience with the Bengals of anyone on offense. Andy Dalton, A.J. Green and Boling are next up from the 2011 draft class. No offensive players from the 2010 draft remain on the Bengals' roster.
Smith was injured for most of his one-year stint with the Vikings. He started in the first four games of the season, but went down with an arm injury shortly into the fourth game of the year and landed on Injured Reserve shortly after. He needed surgery to repair the damage.
"We are excited to have Andre back in Cincinnati," said head coach Marvin Lewis. "He’s a talented player we know and respect. He will bolster our offensive team."
Smith also made a comment today, via a Bengals press release, saying he's open to filling any role the team needs him to.
"I’ll play where the team needs me," said Smith. "I have faith that I can do anything I put my mind to."
Are you glad to have Smith back on the roster and competing for a starting role in 2017?