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Smith signs tender

Updated: 5:10 p.m.



Right end Justin Smith signed his one-year franchise deal, clearing the way for him to work out with the Bengals on the field when they open voluntary practices next week on May 15.

But the Bengals aren't done adding to their roster. While confirming Tuesday that linebacker Ed Hartwell plans to sign his one-year contract next week in Cincinnati, agent Harold Lewis said the Bengals have interest in another of his clients, Packers defensive tackle Kenderick Allen.

Allen, looking for his fourth team in five years, is an agile 330-pounder who is coming off a foot injury that limited him to two games last season in Green Bay.

While the Bengals seem bent on adding another tackle (in the last two weeks they have signed veteran Michael Myers, drafted Oregon's Matt Toeaina in the sixth round, courted veteran Ian Scott before he went to Philadelphia), they know what they've got in Smith.

Jim Steiner, Smith's agent, said he's not overly optimistic about getting such a deal done.

"I only say that because I would think if it was going to happen it would have happened by now," Steiner said. "They know the market, they know what it would take, but we haven't talked about a long-term deal for several months. I would think with his character and the kind of guy he is that they would want to sign him for longer than '07, but we'll have to see."

Steiner said the Bengals told him right away that they would never rescind the tender and make Smith a free agent when much of the money around the NFL was dried up.

"If Justin Smith thought that they were going to pull the offer, he never would have signed it because there is plenty of money out there that he would have been paid," Steiner said. "This is about Justin being a team player and being in there (for the voluntaries) and looking to have a big year for the team and individually.

"He looked at it very pragmatically. He's looking at being a free agent after this season. He doesn't see it negatively. He likes the team, he likes the city, and the franchise number is a big number."

Steiner said he sought a clause in which the Bengals would agree not to make Smith the franchise free agent again in 2008, "but they wouldn't do it," he said.

"If they make him that again then he would make about $20 million in '07 and '08 and he would probably make out as well, or better, if he got a long-term deal," Steiner said. "The only risk is if he gets hurt, and you're covered by insurance."

Smith, fourth in club history with 41.5 sacks, heads into his seventh season with a guaranteed $8.6 million salary that is the average of the NFL's top five highest paid defensive linemen. The Bengals still have two more months to negotiate a long-term deal that would lower his count under the salary cap. If a deal is reached after July 15, the $8.6 million counts for the rest of the season.

"I'm fired up and ready," Smith said in a press release. "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."

The team announced the deal Tuesday, a week to the day the voluntaries start. Smith, known as one of the Bengals with a high motor and relentless offseaon workout regimen, hasn't worked out in Cincinnati since January but will apparently return for the sessions that also include a June 1-3 mandatory minicamp.

Smith, 27, is coming off his fifth straight season of leading the Bengals defensive line with 110 tackles and his 7.5 sacks were behind only end Robert Geathers' 10.5. While playing in 97.7 percent of the snaps last year, Smith stretched his consecutive games streak to 95.

"We are pleased that Justin has come in at this time, so he can join his teammates for our important offseason work," said head coach Marvin Lewis in the release. "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."

Allen could be in the same boat as Hartwell and may be seeking a one-year, incentive-laden deal to prove to everyone he's back from an injury that didn't require surgery.

Allen, who turns 29 the week after the opener, came into the league in 2003 undrafted and signed with the hometown Saints out of LSU. The next season New Orleans cut him and after the Giants picked him up on waivers he played two seasons and 19 games there with 31 tackles and three sacks.

After moving on to Green Bay in 2006 in the second game of the year, Allen got hurt but Lewis said he received an MRI from the Bengals as well as going through a workout Tuesday.

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