The market for NFL offensive tackles that can play is a robust one this season with top players such as Jake Long available. One name that isn't mentioned as much is right tackle Andre Smith of the Cincinnati Bengals, who is said to be seeking a deal that pays him around $9 million per year, according to NFL.com.
Smith was a bust his first two seasons in the league, barely getting on the field due to a foot injury and having to be moved to the right side. However, he has excelled in the two years since, making him a hot commodity in free agency should the Bengals let the 26-year-old walk.
It's not a stretch to think Smith could bring in this type of money. The Denver Broncos just franchise tagged left tackle Ryan Clady, and will pay him just shy of $10 million next year. Clady has been solid for Denver, but certainly not elite the past two years.
The New York Giants re-signed tackle Will Beatty earlier this week to a five-year/$38.75 million contract with $19 guaranteed. Beatty is a nice player, but not exactly one of the top players at his position.
Branden Albert of the Kansas City Chiefs may also become a free agent if the two sides can't come to terms. Albert was a first round pick in 2008 and has played very well, certainly well enough to draw multiple suitors and ultimately a large contract.
However, nobody will get more than Long, who may earn somewhere in the $12 million per year range. The former No. 1 overall pick has been a stud his entire career, perhaps the best left tackle in football along with Joe Thomas of the Cleveland Browns.
It will be interesting to see if Cincinnati, a team with the most cap space in the NFL, pays Smith or lets him walk in pursuit of another player in the coming weeks.