Back from church this morning and the Internet is abuzz with football fans dissecting the Dolphins bringing San Francisco free agent quarterback Alex Smith to town overnight. (If you want to read the details, check out Barry Jackson's story on the Dolphins page of The Miami Herald.)
Let me help with this analysis. This is about a couple of things, including having a backup plan should Matt Flynn bolt. Call this the backup to the backup plan. But primarily tis is about leverage.
I haven't been told that. I haven't gotten a text about it. I am simply smelling leverage.
Why? Because ...
*Before the Dolphins ended their visit with Matt Flynn on Saturday they told him they wanted him as their quarterback.
*Miami locked onto Flynn before Smith. All things being equal, the Dolphins prefer Flynn to Smith simply because he's very familiar with most elements of the offense the Dolphins are likely to run. Smith would have to learn his fifth new offensive system in seven years. Not great.
*I know Miami is very comfortable paying Flynn the contract offer his agent got from the team but probably isn't too thrilled paying Smith the kind of deal he rejected from the San Francisco 49ers. Smith rejected a three-year offer from the 49ers that averaged approximately $7-$8 million per season but could rise to $9-$10 million if he continued to play as he did in 2011 based on incentives.
That is a lot of money on average to turn down. I've no idea where the guaranteed money was but I'm assuming it protected the team against Smith returning to Earth after a good season in 2011. Despite all that, Smith thinks the Dolphins are going to offer more? For their third choice QB?
They would be very unwise to do so.
*Smith wants to be treated and paid like a franchise quarterback. The team that knows him best, loves him most couldn't do it. Why would the Dolphins?
The Dolphins are more than willing to commit to a franchise quarterback when, you know, they are in the presence of a franchise QB. Smith is not a franchise quarterback. In his best season, he was a very good game manager. He threw 17 touchdowns and 5 interceptions last season. Nice. Combine it with the NFL's best defense and you have a trip to the NFC title game. But eye-popping? Outstanding? Championship caliber? No. Not in the AFC East.
Smith actually might come into camp against Matt Moore and lose a fair and equitable competition. His statistics were only slightly better than Moore's last season and over their careers, Moore actually has a higher QB rating -- 80.1 to 76.4. The Dolphins know this (I hope).
*The Dolphins aren't out of the Flynn chase. He will likely make a decision sometime today or tomorrow. He wants to play in Miami. He knows the money is probably not what his agent wanted. But the fact is if he plays well in a system he's familiar with, in two years the Dolphins will be extending his contract anyway. So it's not necessarily about getting the most money now but perhaps getting set up to make the most money down the road after, you know, something has been proven.
(As an aside, it is clear the Dolphins are not getting a proven franchise QB this offseason. They are adding talent to the position. The talent may eventually prove itself and rise to top 10 QB status. But get one of those from the first snap? Nope.)