The Bengals have worked out six kickers this offseason and signed one of them, but indications are they are still going to talk with Shayne Graham's new agent, possibly as soon as next week's scouting combine in Indianapolis, two weeks before the start of free agency.
Graham is now repped by David Dunn, the man that represents Carson Palmer and the man that got long-term deals with the Bengals for Corey Dillon and T.J. Houshmandzadeh when it looked liked they were out the door to free agency. Still, special teams coach Darrin Simmons isn't sure how it will go, but he says if Graham leaves they'll sign another kicker or draft one to join Dave Rayner.
"We have to talk to Shayne and see where he's at," Simmons said. "It has to be a deal that's good for both sides. I've talked to him once to let him know we were signing Rayner. I didn't want him to read about it on the Internet. We didn't talk much about his mindset, but I know he feels badly. A lot of people do."
Graham, the club's most accurate kicker in history, missed two short field-goal attempts in the Wild Card loss to the Jets and is undergoing withering criticism. But Simmons is reluctant to close the career on a guy who has made 85 percent of his field goals until the two sides talk. Asked if he feels Graham and the Bengals need a change of scenery, he thinks that is up to his kicker.
Graham declined comment last week through his representatives.
Rayner is expected to sign his deal this week after beating a host of invitees that included former Ohio State kicker Mike Nugent. Nugent had been in last month while Rayner worked out last Friday as he comes back from a preseason hip flexor injury that wiped out his 2009 season in Washington.
Rayner is the only kicker besides Graham to work in a Bengals game in the seven seasons under head coach Marvin Lewis. When Graham suffered a groin injury in October 2008, Rayner stepped in for the losses against the Jets and Steelers and was one-for-one on field-goal tries.
Rayner, 27, out of Michigan State, has kicked with four other clubs in the regular season, mainly with the Packers in 2006 and the Chiefs in 2007, and has a career percentage of 71.2 on 42 of 59.
SMITH BEGINS REHAB: After undergoing surgery to place a screw in his foot, right tackle Andre Smith is going to be back in the weight room this week lifting despite being on crutches for the next two weeks. Even though he can't run on land for the next two months, it's believed he'll be on the underwater treadmill within a month and that he'll be back on the practice field in time for the start of the May camps.
Smith broke his foot in his third practice of the season and the Bengals indicated back then that they were going to treat it conservatively because that type of break usually heals on its own. After the season they decided to place a screw in it when it didn't heal as expected.