BENGALS TO TAG SMITH?

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BENGALS TO TAG SMITH

A league source tells us that the Cincinnati Bengals plan to slap the franchise tag on defensive end Justin Smith.

Smith, the Bengals' first-round pick in 2001, completed his rookie contract during the 2006 season, making a salary of $2.08 million. Under the franchise tag, Smith would be eligible for a one-year deal worth $8.3 million. The total becomes guaranteed if/when Smith accepts the tender.

But accepting the tender puts him under contract and compels him to attend mandatory minicamps and training camp. If he so chooses, Smith could skip all offseason activities and training camp and sign the tender on the eve of the regular season and still make $8.3 million, guaranteed.

Withholding services is the only leverage Smith has to force a long-term deal. The risk, however, is that the team will withdraw the tag after other teams looking for defensive ends address their needs.

Smith, 27, has played in all but one game during his six-year career. He bagged 7.5 sacks in 2006 and has 41.5 for his career, which equates to an average of just under seven per year.
 

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Bengals Tag Smith.

Bengals put franchise tag on DE Smith

NFL.com wire reports



CINCINNATI (Feb. 15, 2007) -- Defensive end Justin Smith, who has led Cincinnati's line in tackles in each of the last five seasons, was designated as the Bengals' franchise player.

Smith would have become an unrestricted free agent March 2 if he doesn't reach a contract agreement with the Bengals before then. The franchise tag means the Bengals could keep Smith by matching any offer sheet he signed with another team.

If they choose not to match another offer, the Bengals would get the other team's first-round draft picks in 2007 and 2008 as compensation.

He would be guaranteed $8,644,000, the average salary of the top five defensive ends next season.

"This move helps us keep our core players together, and it gives us an opportunity to continue negotiating for a longer-term contract with Justin," coach Marvin Lewis.

Smith had 110 tackles in the 2006 season and ranked second on the team in sacks with 7½. He has played all six of his NFL seasons with Cincinnati.
 

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