Smith has come a long way from his first two NFL seasons in which he played in a combined 13 games and started in only 5 of them. With last year being his first full season as a starter, he should only improve this season as the Bengals look to take the next step in winning the AFC North.
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 team did re-sign OT Anthony Collins this offseason for 2 years, $2.50 million. Collins actually beat out Smith for the starting RT spot for periods during the 2009 and 2010 seasons, mostly due to Smith’s various injuries. If Smith doesn’t play up to his potential this year, he may be given his walking paper in favor of the much cheaper Collins, and we all know Mike Brown likes cheaper.