In an effort to put aside contractual concerns, Bengals defensive end Justin Smith elected to forego extended negotiations and exercise his option to sign a one-year deal.
The contract, in accordance with the NFL's Collective Bargaining Agreement, grants Smith a salary equal to the average salary of the league's top-five earning defensive ends a year ago, which is reportedly worth approximately $8.6 million.
A similar situation faced New Orleans end Charles Grant, who was likewise tagged as the Saints' franchise player. Grant eventually agreed to a contract extension worth $63 million over seven years.
Said head coach Marvin Lewis of the signing, "We are pleased that Justin has come in at this time, so he can join his teammates for our important offseason work.
"It’s a display of his commitment to the Bengals and to a winning program. This does not preclude our continuing to talk to Justin and his representatives about reaching a longer-term agreement."
Smith (6-4, 275) has compiled 41 sacks in his six year career (7.5 in 2006), and will continue to anchor a Cincinnati defensive line that accounted for nearly 80 percent of the team's sack total (27.5 out of 35).
"I’m fired up and ready," Smith said. "I’m glad we got this done. It’s time to get back with my teammates, get in some good offseason work, and make this a great season for the Bengals."
Smith will likely join his teammates for the first of a series of upcoming voluntary workouts scheduled to begin May 15th, with mandatory mini-camp starting on the first of June.