Enter Andre Smith. Admittedly, it’s wholly probable that not all of Smith’s negotiations were elaborate ruse. Indeed, his initial asking price of $9M a year was probably accurate. However, remember back to mid-March when multiple news agencies, beat writers and blogger insiders were all talking about Smith and the Bengals getting close to an agreement.
Suddenly there is a black out; nothing is mentioned across the wire for a day, and then immediately following rumors that earlier reports were false began popping up – the two sides were very far apart, talks were breaking off, etc. And then… nothing.
What was most puzzling was while many people cited Smith’s previous hold-outs as a rookie, a closer look reveals that Smith actually fired his rookie agent, Alvin Keels, in November 2012 and signed with Ben Dogra of CCA Football shortly thereafter. Dogra is the tenacious representation who brokered the Jake Long deal to the Rams earlier this year, and conspicuously also represents A.J. Green, Jermaine Gresham, Terrance Newman who returned to the Bengals in late March after the Smith talks had broken off, turning down a larger contract from Oakland in the process.
The fact that Smith signed just hours before the Cincinnati selected running back Giovanni Bernard at the top of the second round is nothing short of miraculous for Bengals fans. Certainly its plausible that Smith and Coach Lewis came to an informal agreement back in March, and perhaps his silence and play-along was a non-currency-based incentive when the deals was being finalized. While it’s interesting that Miami, Jacksonville and San Diego all reportedly inquired to CCA Football about Smith’s services but received little attention from the best free agent tackle on the market during that month, greater Bengaldom will probably not dig too deep nor care. Like most good conspiracies, if they work out the ends justify the means, and having our right tackle returning in stripes is certainly the end state we all hoped for.