Andre Smith’s holdout is finally over, ending a month-long standoff with the Bengals. The team announced the sixth overall pick had signed shortly before he was to take the field for his first practice with the Bengals.
Steve Wyche reports it’s a four-year, $26 million deal that includes $21 million guaranteed, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. The Bengals have an option to extend the contract after the 2010 season, which would make the deal a six-year, $42 million contract with $29.5 million guaranteed. Smith also has incentives that could increase the maximum value of a six-year deal to $50 million.
“We’re excited to have Andre with us now,” said coach Marvin Lewis. “He has a lot of work to do, but he knows the challenge ahead of him to make an impact on our team as soon as possible. Our vision of him is simply as a physically dominating player on our offensive line, and we know that this guy wants to be very, very good.”
Smith has missed all of training camp and Cincinnati’s first three preseason games. Lewis said Smith’s availability for the Bengals’ preseason finale vs. Indianapolis on Thursday “will be evaluated as we go through the week.”
With Smith now signed, San Francisco receiver Michael Crabtree, the No. 10 overall pick, is the only unsigned draft pick.
Smith was projected to be Cincinnati’s starting right tackle but with him missing so much time, his place in the starting lineup could be delayed. Cincinnati could use a two-week roster exemption for Smith so he could get in shape and get as up to speed as possible before having to create a roster spot for him by getting rid of a player. Smith has been training in Tuscaloosa, Ala., where he played collegiately for Alabama, while his contract was being negotiated.
The finalization of this contract ends a bizarre offseason for Smith, who entered the draft as the most sought after offensive lineman but had his stock drop after he left the scouting combine early, then had a marginal pro day where the 335-pounder drew cynics -– and jeers –- for running his 40-yard dash with his shirt off.
He had a solid offseason with the Bengals during minicamps and OTAs but his absence from training camp has left him behind Anthony Collins and Dennis Roland on the depth chart.