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Chris Smith says he would like to stay with Bengals

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Chris Smith wants to stay in town, but he is also excited to see what he can get in free agency.

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Cincinnati Bengals v Tennessee Titans Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Free agency is quickly approaching, and looking ahead the Bengals don’t have very many big name players hitting the market.

They still have some guys who contributed under the radar who they should seriously consider keeping around, and one of those guys is defensive end Chris Smith.

The Cincinnati Enquirer recently posted a piece discussing the Bengals free agents, and how likely each one is to return to Cincinnati next season. There, Smith gave his thoughts on returning to the Bengals.

“I love it here,” Smith said of Cincinnati. “We’ll see what happens around here. The thing about it, I stayed healthy – thank God I stayed healthy all 16 games – showed what I could do on field. I’m very versatile across the line. I can do anything, basically. I think the main thing is just the work is done and I’ll just control what I can control and just gotta see what happens.”

Smith, who is only 25, is looking to see what he can get in his first major contract in the NFL. Although, he may be disappointed by what the open market is willing to offer him after only having three sacks, four tackles for a loss and a forced fumble. Of course he did that in a limited role. He was also able to show off his versatility by kicking inside to defensive tackle in passing situations.

“It is exciting, man. It’s exciting,” said Smith. “I always used to look when I first came to the league and see guys get this and that. Now it’s my day. It’s going to be fun. I’m anxious and excited at the same time.”

Smith is what the Bengals hoped they’d be getting when they traded for him this offseason, and they team would be smart to bring him back. They would be set at defensive end, and he would probably takeover Michael Johnson’s role eventually.

Or, he would at least see an increased role whenever Johnson does leave. The Bengals should give him an option of two different contracts. Either a long-term deal with plenty of incentives with the promise of a bigger role, or they should offer him a one-year deal so he can hit the market again next season. These are obviously dependent on what kind of offers he gets from around the NFL.

If it were me, I would use the $6 million cap space gained from cutting Johnson to sign Smith to a two or three-year deal. That way you could sell it as having security, and he would also hit the market again before being over the hill.

Smith may not have had the flashiest stat line, but he showed he could be a very valuable piece for the Bengals in the future. You can never have too many pass rushers, and he could be a very valuable guy to have come off the bench or play a bigger role. He is also a great insurance policy in case Carl Lawson ever gets injured or Jordan Willis doesn’t develop into the player we think he could be.

Losing Smith in free agency might not seem like a big deal initially, but it’s the kind of loss we could end up looking back on as a big mistake.