After missing the entire voluntary portion of the Bengals offseason training program, it appears as though offensive tackle Andre Smith will be here for the team’s mandatory minicamp from June 11-13.
Still, it’s concerning to say the least that Smith hasn’t been to any workouts, and isn’t giving any updates other than it’s for a personal issue.
The Bengals reached a three-year agreement worth $18 million with offensive tackle Andre Smith this offseason, but it’s already looking like he may not last all three seasons.
This is not to invoke widespread hysteria in Bengaldom, but simply to serve as a warning of a potential future with the talented yet troubled Smith, and how it could end unfavorably for both sides.
It appeared after the deal was reached that Smith had finally matured and was ready to continue living up to status of being the 6th-overall draft pick in 2009.
“The last two years here have been tremendous, going to the playoffs both years, and it was time for me to make the decision to be back,” Smith said this offseason after signing his deal. “I think I’ve fully bought into what Coach Lewis wanted me to do, doing all the little things that make a great pro, and I’ve never enjoyed football more.”
Smith finished the 2012 season with a +26.9 grade by Pro Football Focus, the 4th-best by an offensive tackle, and the best by a right tackle.
He was also one of the top tackles in football in 2011, but those two “good” years were after two years of weight concerns, poor conditioning, a prolonged rookie contract holdout, and multiple serious foot injuries, and it was easy to see why the Bengals weren’t ready to invest a long-term contract worth $9 million annually like Smith was asking for. Backed into a corner, Smith had to take the best deal available, and it happened to be what the Bengals were offering.
But Smith and his camp may still be upset over how everything went, and may already be trying to play his way out of Cincinnati at some point. not showing up for OTAs may not seem like a big deal, but it’s a great opportunity to bond with teammates, develop chemistry, and keep your conditioning up, something that Smith was said to have done a poor job managing this offseason, which helped lead to other teams shying away from him in free agency.
So is Smith going down a path that will eventually lead him to being traded or cut? The Bengals only guaranteed him $5 million over the 3-year deal, so they can cut their losses if Smith becomes more of a distraction than a contributor in the same way he was in his first two NFL seasons.
Or maybe he’ll be back next week, go on to have a great career in Cincinnati, and ride off into the sunset with multiple Super Bowl rings. I like the latter, but I’m not expecting it.