As the Bengals inch closer and closer to the opening kickoff of the 2012 football season, several Bengals are in contract years if the team chooses not to extend their contracts prior to the start of the season. This tends to be when NFL players are playing at their highest level if their not holding out in hopes of a new contract. They know every snap of football from here on out could be more dollars in their pocket, or in the trash.
Perhaps the biggest free agent of them all is RT Andre Smith. Hes’ played in just 27 games in three seasons with the Bengals after being the 6th overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. The team chose not to pick up his 5th-year option, meaning he is now in a contract year. He put together his best season in 2011, and even had one of the best performances by a right tackle all season, according to Pro Football Focus.
Out of all of the Bengals with expiring contractss entering the 2012 season, Smith has the most to either gain or lose this season. If he can put together another solid season while continuing to improve his abilities as a run-blocker, he’ll get a big-time contract this offseason. Weather its from the Bengals or another NFL team will remain to be seen.
The Bengals do have a backup plan if the Bengals opt not to resign Smith. The team re-signed OT Anthony Collins this offseason for 2 years, $2.50 million, which gives the Bengals leverage in negotiations with Smith. Collins actually beat out Smith for the RT spot several times prior to this season, and if Smith walks in free agency, the team does have a viable replacement in place.