Free agent offensive tackle Andre Smith has signed with the Minnesota Vikings, Smith announced on Twitter on Thursday. The deal is for one year and worth up to $4.5 million, according to Fox Sports' Mike Garafolo.
Offensive line has been a priority for the Vikings all offseason. The inked former 49ers guard Alex Boone to a four-year, $26.8 million deal last week and also re-signed guard Mike Harris. The moves made are clearly about protecting third-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who threw for over 3,000 yards last year.
Smith was a first-round pick by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2009, and while the initial assessment was that it was a bad pick for various reasons, he overcame much of his own baggage and developed into an excellent starter.
Smith is a power run blocker who routinely throws defensive linemen around the field, but his great size and power was once considered a negative as he struggled with weight and effort troubles. He didn't get many starts over his first two years in the league, but his playing time jumped in 2011 and that's when he started to turn things around.
In all, Smith has started 73 of the 82 games he's played in, though he has only played in all 16 games in a single season just twice in his career. He has spent his full career with the Bengals and they knew him best. He developed into an above average starter at right tackle, but they let him hit the open market anyway.
Smith is 29 years old and did look a bit slowed down last season, though he was banged up with injuries.