1. Andre Smith, Right Tackle
Unfortunately for Cincinnati, one of the best offensive lines in the league will be losing a member. Smith’s outstanding performance and reliability on the right side of the offensive line will command a lucrative contract. For context on how well Smith played, he shut out both Justin Houston and J.J. Watt in his most recent matchup with either player. While he committed nine penalties in 2015, Andre Smith was still able to prevent some of the NFL’s best pass rushers from sacking his quarterback. And that’s worth all the money in the world for a team desperate to protect its quarterback.
Smith is 28 years old, which is exactly how old Parnell was last season. If he doesn’t take a hometown discount (which he likely won’t), Smith–still in his prime–could command a seven-to-ten million dollar salary per year.
Here are the only two scenarios in which I could see Smith re-signing with Cincinnati:
- Andre Smith takes a hometown discount.
- George Iloka, Marvin Jones, Mohamed Sanu and Reggie Nelson all sign elsewhere and Smith, waiting for a huge offer, is still on the market.
But with neither scenario looking particularly likely, it’s time for Cincinnati to cut ties with Andre Smith. It will be up to second-year players Jake Fisher and Cedric Ogbuehi to earn playing time at right tackle next season. At least the Bengals will have an exciting camp battle to look forward to.
Next: 2. Leon Hall