ANDRE SMITH PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
Can you talk about the free-agency process over the past six weeks?** AS: "The process has been pretty good. Switching agents and being with Ben Dogra has been a great success. All those guys communicate extremely well. There wasn't a time we weren't talking during the free agency time. He just kept me informed and let me know what teams were in it and everything that was going on; I enjoyed it."
Did you always want to be here in Cincinnati?
AS: "I mean the first two years were a little tough, but the last two years have been tremendous, along with us going to the playoffs the last two seasons. We're bidding to make our Super Bowl run like I know we can; we have the ability to do so. Just to have the opportunity to come back. Yeah, I didn't want to leave. Everything is going to work out fine; I'm happy. I'd rather be happy and be here than be sad and be somewhere else."
Was there every a point where you didn't think you would be back?
AS: "My mom always told me to just be patient and pray and God will take care of everything. God showed his hand and I'm back here in Cincinnati; so obviously this was his plan. We're just going to continue to build on it and be successful as a team."
Were you surprised that you signed during the draft?
AS: "Me, Ben (Dogra) and Katie (Blackburn) kind of had an idea of how everything was going on. I kind of had the intention that if I didn't sign today during the draft, I'll probably sign Sunday. So at some point in time I was going to sign. Like I said, it wasn't stressful at all. Being with CAA (Dogra's firm) helped a lot."
Were the Bengals more forward with signing you, with the NFL draft coming up?
AS: "Ben just said to me, 'Just be patient, bro.' The team's going to do what they want to do. You're going to have calls back and forth. There's going to be times when you're not going to talk for like a day, and then you talk the next day. It's a process; you're going to be back and forth. It's like a slug match, trying to figure out who's going to get the highest bid and who's going to get the lowest bid. It was pretty good; there were some great blows thrown, but we came out victorious because I'm back in Cincinnati, so it's great."
How is this different from your rookie contract negotiations?
AS: "This process is different because you can choose where you want to go as opposed to being chosen by another team. You can take less money and go somewhere. You can take more money and go somewhere else. It's pretty much up to you. I always came back to (the fact that) I always wanted to be here because, like I said, the last two years have been tremendous. I thoroughly enjoyed playing football the last two seasons."
It seemed like the tackle market didn't take off this year compared to in the past. Were you surprised by that?
AS: "I was very surprised by that. I was reading reports that I was going to sign around $9 million and $10 million. I was like, 'Wow! Maybe I can get this.' Then the market came back and I was like, 'Well, I'm not going to be able to get that one.' It's a process. Like I said, Ben (Dogra) and all those guys at CAA did a tremendous job, and my parents also, and my wife."
What has made the last two years enjoyable for you?
AS: "I think it's just me buying into Marvin's (Lewis) system; not being the guy that bulks against it. 'No, I'm not going to do it like that; I'm going to do it my way. I'm going to do it like I've always been doing it.' Just finally buying into it; doing everything the right way, being a pro, being on-time, just all the small things that make you a great player."
How many of your Bengals teammates reached out to you during this process?
AS: "Adam Jones actually did it quite often. Adam did a tremendous job with telling me, 'Just be patient, bro. Don't shoot your gun yet,' so to speak, or, 'just be patient.' Whit (Andrew Whitworth) was like, 'Dre, just be patient, bro; calm down,' same thing. Everybody did a pretty good job. Like I said, Whit and Adam, for the most part, were the only guys I spoke to ... and (Jermaine) Gresham and along with Carlos Dunlap."
Was it difficult being patient with the free-agency process with CAA representing the top three tackles on the market in you, Jake Long and Sebastian Vollmer?
AS: "It wasn't really that hard. Like I said, Ben (Dogra) had his plan. He knew how he was going to do it. Of course it didn't work exactly like he thought it was supposed it; there are going to be bumps in the road. For the most part, everything went exactly like he said it was going to go."
What do you think about the Bengals taking offensive skill position players with their first two draft picks?
AS: "I'm loving it. I love a running back; you know I'm loving that. I love a tight end to get the ball to, along with Gresh and all the others guys we have that play that position. It's been a tremendous draft; I'm really enjoying it. I watched the entire thing last night."
Were you wondering what the Bengals were thinking during the draft with you still unsigned?
AS: "I was just trying to pick up ideas, see what was going on, what other teams were thinking and see which way they were going in the draft. That's pretty much what I did. But I really enjoyed the draft this year for the first time. I'd never watched the entire draft, but this time I watched the entire draft."
What do you think about the Tyler Eifert pick in the first round?
AS: "The Eifert pick? I think he's going to be pretty good. Like I said, it's going to bring us great competition and make us better."
Did you talk to Alabama offensive lineman D.J. Fluker before the draft?
AS: "I talked to Fluker probably the first of the offseason. I saw him down in Tuscaloosa and told him to work hard. It's a process; the combine's going to be a grind. It's only for three days; it'll be over quick before you know it. Just go in there and be professional and your game file will speak for itself and it worked out for him; he was a top-15 pick."
What finally led to a deal?
AS: "What changed for me was that I felt like it was time. Why continue to play around? Why wait? I just felt like it was time. Why procrastinate? So that was pretty much it. The offer changed, but I felt like it was time. Let's get back to business; Bengal football."
How would you describe Bengal football?
AS: "Tough guys, hard nosed, high-effort. We're going to grind you down. We're going to be the best team in the fourth quarter. We're going to convert every down, every pass, even though it's not possible. Every third-down conversion on offense we're going to try to convert. The defense is going to be phenomenal because Mike Zimmer does a great job. It's just going to be up to us to do our part on offense and we're doing it by drafting the way we have."
Do you think you've addressed on offense what you needed to improve the unit?
AS: "Yeah because they were like, 'We need another tight end,' last year. A bigger target along with Gresh and A.J. (Green) on the outside would've been a tremendous help with opening up the offense. Who's to say we would've won, but we didn't win. So it's onto next year and onto better things."