Though it’s unclear when the process will end, negotiations between the Bengals and tackle Andre Smith, the sixth overall pick in the draft, will be starting soon.
Per a league source, talks are expected to begin this week.
Smith has said that he wants to report for training camp without a holdout.
The Bengals are in a delicate position with Smith, given that last year’s No. 6 overall selection (Vernon Gholston of the Jets) received a contract containing $21 million guaranteed, and that this year’s fifth choice (Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez) pocketed $28 million guaranteed.
Another key factor could be the contracts given to the other two tackles taken in the top ten — Jason Smith of the Rams at No. 2 and Eugene Monroe of the Jaguars at No. 8.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that either or both players will sign before Andre Smith. And Andre Smith and agent Alvin Keels might choose to drag their feet until Jason Smith and Eugene Monroe are under contract.
So if either of the other two tackles fails to report on time, a holdout for Smith could be inevitable.
Besides, a holdout meshes with the team’s history.
And it would provide an intriguing story line for the early episodes of Hard Knocks.