It appears a cloud over Cincinnati is about to lift.
A big cloud.
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis struck a surprisingly positive note during his pre-draft news conference, saying there was a chance right tackle Andre Smith could sign prior to Thursday.
“I’m hopeful we can get a solution prior to [Thursday's] draft. I know Andre would like to get it done,” Lewis said, via Geoff Hobson of the team’s official website. “I think he’d feel better about things so he doesn’t get lost without a chair.”
Asked to forecast the chance of a deal, Lewis reportedly smiled and said: “The sun is emerging maybe.”
The imminent threat of a younger, cheaper player taking their job is a great incentive for many veterans, especially in the days leading up to the draft.
The Bengals seemed to be taking a risk when they tagged defensive end Michael Johnson instead of Smith, but the market for right tackles not named Gosder Cherilus fell through the floor, and Smith hasn’t gotten the kind of interest many assumed a month and a half ago.
And while there’s no deal yet, the Bengals’ hard-line (i.e. cheap) negotiating tactics appear to have paid off again.