Once again, team leadership will be playing an economics game, one which they have never seemed to play to the Bengal Fans’ satisfaction. Obviously, Smith’s expectations seem unrealistic. So we’ll wait to see where any interest in Smith as a free agent arises. The gamble is that there’s not another competitive team, particularly in the Bengal’s path that might voice that interest. Worst case, Smith ends up in Cleveland paired up with Joe Thomas, considered by some to be the best tackle in the league. Should the Bengals have to face that pair twice, letting Smith go might prove to be regrettable.
And flush with cash, who doesn’t know the Bengals have room to spare under the NFL’s salary cap? Using the draft to make a statement regarding the team’s weak defense makes a lot more sense than stopping the bleeding caused by another free agent exit. With that in mind, given that Smith is a proven and homegrown talent, the move should be one that is both generous and intelligent, below Smith’s unreasonable demand but perhaps loaded with incentives. Prevent the sacks, rack up rushing yards, get us to the Super Bowl, turn into an Anthony Munoz and you’ll set yourself and your family up for generations as another Bengal legend.