Bengals to Trade or Release Levi Jones

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Kenny Zuckerman, agent for Bengals LT Levi Jones, says the Bengals have told him that they will trade or release Jones now that they have secured Andre Smith.

Buffalo and Chicago have been noised about as possible landing spots for Jones, who has struggled with injury since the 2006 season.

Zuckerman expects something to happen “shortly.”

The move is a little surprising only because the Bengals remain thin at tackle, and Smith is, of course, still unsigned. If he holds out for a protracted period — and this is a year rife with contractual land mines thanks to the looming uncapped year — the Bengals may end up with Anthony Collins and, uh, hmmm, oh, yeah, Dennis Roland as starting tackles. Yikes.

Given that the Bengals plan to release Jones if they can’t deal him, I have to think he won’t bring much, if anything, in trade. Levi has been on the block since at least mid-March.

Added: The more I think about it, the more this annoys me. If the Bengals believe they can get any value for Jones in trade, then they also must think he’s healthy enough to play. If his knees/leg are shot, no way he passes the physical that the completion of any trade would rest upon.

So is this Willie Anderson all over again? Sure sounds like it. Last August, when Willie wouldn’t take a $2 million haircut to stay on as a backup, he got shown the door, supposedly because he couldn’t play any more. He went on to start most of the season in Baltimore.

I’m sure that Levi’s salary is in the $3-4 million range this season — again, more than Mike Brown usually deems worth a backup tackle. And so, despite the fact our o-line depth is shallow, it looks like it’s “off with Levi’s head” time in Cincy.

The move is stupid from another angle as well, as it gives Andre Smith more leverage in his rookie contract negotiations. Of course, I’m sure neither Levi’s nor Andre’s agents are complaining, considering that they work for the same agency.

Update: Levi’s agent tells the Enquirer that they have not asked to be traded or released.

“Prior to the owner’s meeting the team said he was going to be traded before or during the draft and if nothing happened there they would release him,” Zuckerman said. “It wasn’t us asking this. Levi isn’t asking for this. This is all brought up by them.”

Reportedly, Jones did ask for a trade prior to the 2008 draft.

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