The Bengals are reporting that first round pick OT Andre Smith has finally agreed to terms on a contract.
The sixth overall choice in April’s draft is reportedly getting as much as 42 million on what’s been described as an exceptionally complex contract.
The complexity grew out of the need to bridge a wide gap in philosophy between the team and Smith’s agent Alvin Keels. While Keels insisted on a slotted deal between five and seven, taking advantage of the ridiculous deal the Raiders gave WR Darius Hayward-Bey, the Bengals wanted to provide a contract more in line with the moderate increases found in the rest of the first round.
Much of the national media was alerted to the developments via Chad Ochocinco’s twitter page, in which he announced the signing last night, and even published a photo of him with Smith.
Keels and Bengals Vice President Katie Blackburn met at Paul Brown Stadium last Sunday and again yesterday. Once it became clear that a deal was within reach, and they met again today to finalize the deal. Smith signed and was able to get his jiggly physique on the field in time for the afternoon practice.
The Cincinnati Enquirer is reporting the deal is for 4 years, with 21 million guaranteed and up to 26 million with escalators and incentives. The team retains an option in 2010 that can push the contract to 6 years and 42 million, with a possible 50 million total with escalators and incentives.
Thus, the holdout ends at 30 days, good for fourth longest of the list of all-too-numerous first round contract stalemates in Mike Brown’s tenure as GM. Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com reports that Keels enlisted the help of Cincinnati-based agent Jim Gould to complete the deal. Gould’s experience with the Bengals organization and the Browns and Blackburns no doubt helped. Gould worked with the Bengal brass on Peter Warrick’s rookie deal, as well as Dan “Big Daddy” Wilkinson’s contract restructuring that allowed the team to send him to Washington in 1998.
As for the impact this will have on the starting offensive line, and the roster in general, the team isn’t saying at this point. League rules provide them with a two week roster exemption if they choose to use it. However, the exemption only applies if he does not participate in Thursday’s preseason game, and the team may feel he needs the game experience. No matter what, he’s clearly behind the other linemen and will need to catch up. “I’m not afraid to put rookies in there, but this guy is so far behind” offensive line coach Paul Alexander was quoted as saying, “He’s got so much work to do…it’s going to be an intense year for him.”