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A look at Sean Smith's cut at free agency

I lke Sean Smith. He's intelligent. He's well-spoken when he wants to be. He seems to get it when he wants to and that was apparent when he lost weight and worked his backside off in training camp prior to the 2012 season -- understanding his contract year loomed. And he's problematic for the NFL's big-bodied wide receivers that like to win by simply being bigger than the cornerbacks they face.

So I like Sean Smith on the Dolphins.

But he is not elite.

He is not franchise player material as one local publication reported in January.

He's, well, something between terrible and good. And that makes him inconsistent.

Smith started this season a house on fire. He locked down Larry Fitzgerald. He did great work against A.J. Green. And then something changed.

Suddenly he was giving up first downs like it was part of his job description. And yes, that was him in the picture and beaten on a handful of TDs caught by opposing wide receivers. According to ProFootballFocus.com, Smith yielded more combined first downs and touchdowns than any other NFL cornerback. That number is a whopping 46.

Something didn't seem to fit. Seems he's not comfortable against smaller, quicker receivers so he plays off. And at 6-3 and 218 pounds, he doesn't have the quickness and explosion to close on receivers on out patterns and comebacks for first downs.

That's not all.

The elephant in the room is the guy should be an interception machine. But isn't.

He plays well enough often enough that balls come to him. Unfortunately, he drops most of them. He dropped one against Indianapolis last year that could've been the difference between a win and loss. Yes, he had two picks on the season, but his drops have far outnumbered his catches over his Dolphins career.

And he was a wide receiver in college at one point!

I didn't know what to make of Smith after the season so I asked two former Dolphins receivers about him. I asked them to compare Smith to former Miami cornerback Vontae Davis. Both players said the same thing.

"I'd much rather go against Sean than Vontae," one said. "Vontae is a pain in the [butt]. He gets his hands on you, he holds, he grabs, he gets away with stuff that nobody sees. Sean is just easier. He's fast as hell. But he guesses a lot and a lot of time he guesses wrong."

And so this is the resume Sean Smith will take to free agency in March.

I believe he's going to free agency because his agent David Canter is confident Smith will be a hot commodity in free agency. I don't doubt that's true. First, Canter has made his reputation by knowing the market. Second, Smith looks like a beast if you put on the Arizona tape.

But I was there for all 16 games this year. And all the games in 2011. And the ones in 2010 once Smith recovered from being benched in favor of, wait for, Jason Allen.

And I don't think it would be wise for the Dolphins to spend a lot of money on Smith. I say that that knowing that Canter will be asking for a lot of money for Smith.

As I have reported, that camp believes the market for Smith is similar to the Brandon Carr contract with Dallas or the Jason McCourty contract with Tennessee. Carr got $50 million over five years and McCourty got $43 million over five years from Tennessee.

So Smith is looking for anywhere between $8-$10 million.

The Dolphins don't see that. And much as I like Smith and respect Canter, I don't see it either. The performance simply does not rise to that level. And frankly, I'm not sure it rises to half that level, either.

Then there's the other question that must linger in the mind of the Dolphins brass: What is going to happen once Sean Smith gets paid? He worked hard to get ready for the contract year. And then he faded anyway.

Is he going to work harder once he gets guaranteed money?

I don't know that he isn't. I also am not sure he will.

The cornerback market has potential bargains. Yes, Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie will want a big payday that I don't think he's worth. But guys such as Cary Williams and Brent Grimes and Michael Adams will be out there. They all come with questions marks. That makes them no better than Smith.

But they'll probably be cheaper than Smith, at least initially.

Then there's always the draft. A couple of years ago the Dolphins fished a little-known Utah cornerback out of the draft's second round and he started immediately. He wasn't great but he wasn't bad. And he was cheap. That made him a good value.

His name is Sean Smith.

But for $8-$10 million? No thanks.



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sure stu, just pledge 250 mill of your own money and tell us how it will benefit the local economy in your city

Reggie is the only playmaker on the team. They better pay him.

fin 77 we dont need him. with miller he is replaced. so use the money to go get playmakers at other pos of need

The Miami Hurricanes basketball teams rise to the top has completed Miami's transformation to a basketball city. Heat and Canes both #1 in BB.

You would have to be very naive to believe that JI has not aproached our FAs and their contacts by now.

Agreed dusty...I keep Hartline and Starks as my two biggest must have backs...

Next tier would be Bush and or Long BUT, only at a decent price. If they both keep high demands I would go it without both of them.

On an even lower tier would be Smith. I believe his head is big and his play is small. He gets eaten up by numberous small, quick, regular Joe WR's. He had a P.I. penalty against Fitz that would have been a TD but luckily it didn't get called.

I am not saying he has never made a play but a star #1 corner?? Pfffft! who's he kidding. The market should put him and his greedy agent back in check.


Miller cant replace Bush. And we need at least 2 good backs anyway.

go canesssssssssss. 10-0 in acc. should be number 4 or 5 tomm in new poll

Everybody has their opinions. The fact is none of know who we're gonna sign / resign including the Dolphins until March.

I'm sure they have a plan as to who they would like keep and there may be 1 or 2 they don't have any intention of keeping.

I do agree with WNP in the sense of extending an olive branch to a player you want to keep. I mean the market may change a little year to year but a few dollars isn't worth the risk of losing a top player. It also may send a message that we take care of our players.

Judging from past experience with signing top free agents it certainly wouldn't hurt to change our image.

miller can easily replace bush. bush has had a mediocre career. millers expectations are higher

YG earlier I think you (or someone) mentioned OT Fisher as a possible Fin choice.

If he made it down to #12 I feel the Fins would get Lamar Miller there just to sprint to the podium. He is BIG, FLUID, NASTY and has ALL the tools to be a crazy dominant LT in the NFL.

Unfortunately I think that secret is already out of the bag so unless there is a trade up he will go well ahead of where the Fins pick imho.


Rob in OC,

Nice to be on here live with you, man. Tell me why you think Starks is close as a 'must sign'. I just don't see it. Understand I like the guy and he's been a good Dolphin but as a 10 year vet, I don't see $8-10 mil a year being a good investment for this guy.

I believe Odrick needs to be moved from DE to DT and a new young guy needs to be brought in, who can pressure the QB more than Odrick currently does. To me, bringing Starks back at the money he wants would be a mistake.


What is your plan if Miller gets nicked??

I mean I know you are not thinking Thomas?

Just curious.


um dusty, miller will replace bush and be much better. cant you tell by watching him that he (miller) knows how to carry the football? im so sick of fans of my time having no clue what they are talking about. Bush cant hit a hole. how many times this year did he carry the ball for a loss or no gain. he picks up 2yds when he could get 4yds. miller will be a probowl level back. just wait

imagine wake, starks, solia, osi sure dont want to imagine wake, odrick, solai, vernon

Good points, especially the last one Dolfan Rick @ 5:06


Can not replace Bush. He is the entire offense.

rob what was our plan this past year if bush got nicked? was thomas right

um why the hell do people want to pay hardline? one freakin td! one! plus he cant separate and get open against good coverage, he has no YAC, and hes slow. yeah lets pay 6-7 million a year. he wouldnt even make the roster of half the teams in the NFL. jesus! what are you people watching?

greg i just said that

Posted by: We Need Playmakers | February 10, 2013 at 04:41 PM

You Need Brain Surgery,

Would hate to have you as a negotiator. You tip your hand early with your absolute best offer. While other gm's laugh you out of the building and still steals your prized product right out from underneath your eye.

Not only is your way a very poor way to negotiate in foorball, it's a piss poor way to negotiate in life.

greg half the teams in the nfl are rumored to be wanting this guy, so my guess is hes long gone. so relax. sit back and watch him go for 1100 and 6 tds next year someplace else

sorry dusty. that was directed toward fin 77. my bad

they can have him. i look at these teams like the giants, pats, packers, niners, they all have multiple guys who can make moves and get into the end zone. i mean come on, and these guys want hartline at 6-7 million a year. maybe, and i mean maybe as a third option guy in the slot, but paying that amount of money for a guy who cant score tds or make moves to get yards, that just seems crazy to me. i know it takes time to build a team but paying somebody who doesnt score is not a good way to start.

welker couldnt scored tds here wither. its not all on hartline

Bush is history and his salary demands have only spurred along the decision. He's not a bad guy but just unspectacular for long periods of the season. He's a third down back in the wrong role.

Dolfan Rick 2 5:06PM,

Its not only the Dolphins fo that uses this strategy, fo's all over the entire nfl uses this strategy.

Olive branches, as you call them, are only extended to players you undisputably want to keep.

Remember, Cam Wake was extended prior to the beginning of the 2012 regular season. No way was Wake going to see fa in 2013. Wake's a fine example of "extending the olive branch."



I believe, whether it said so on the depth chart or not, that Miller played his way past Thomas.

I know it seemed to me Miller was more available (not injured) and had much better yards per carry than Thomas.

With no Reggie and Miller as the #1 guy if Miller goes down we go to Thomas? The same guy that has a career of approx 3.5 a carry as well as can't answer the bell with a very light workload?

I am just not seeing anything close to reliable from Thomas. If you see it differently then time will tell how it shakes out.


D. Thomas will be cut this season.

yes rob the same guy we went to last year.

The Fins cannot afford to lose Bush. Its not like theres a cap problem.

I believe it stills depends on what we see Ireland does or doesnt do regarding the rb position in the draft and fa.

Only then will we know if Thomas is being "kicked to the curve."

see ya bush. its miller time. thomas will be on roster. if u arent comfortable with him as backup sing a vet to back up miller


Remember Hartline just had 74 catches for 1,083 yards on a team that had a rookie QB, Basically NO other major threats on offense besides Bush.

Like dusty said...his lack of TD's is not all on him. The play design, deep accuracy and defenses cheating to his side killed a lot of TDs too.

It is kinda like Belichek giving the Fins a 2nd round pick and 7th round pick for Welker. With us he was a 3rd WR/Punt/KR. Had very few TD's. On paper we won that trade for a guy we had picked up off waivers.

The Pats have made him into a 100+ catch machine scoring plenty.

Sometimes its the talent around you.


I would really hate to go into the Season, as I'm sure Philbin feels about it, with Miller and Thomas only as RBs, both unproven. If Bush is let go, Ireland has to find us a good, proven RB.

fair enough oscar, find a vet to backup miller.

Reggie is a progress stopper. It's as plain as day that Miller is much cheaper, younger without the fumbles. You can worry about injury with every player so don't be surprised if they draft or pick up another RB to develop.

I feel sorry for Tannehill if they dont sign both Long and Bush. Bush is the face of the franchise too.


Duly noted.

I want to distance my self far,far away from Thomas and your are fine with him as the #2 guy.

As I stated before with a 3 for 1 trade up Ireland would be loathe to get rid of Thomas. Can't afford to draw that heat and attention to his blunder. It's easier for him to say "He is young", "He will develop" and try to keep him on the roster to pray he gets better to justify the lame move to trade up for him.

Too bad Philbin has to give up a roster spot for Thomas. Sheez, it's essentially a 52 man roster.


Gotta go pick up wifey. Hop on later.

Cheers all

Rob IN OC,

It tires me to no ends with the Welker/Hartline comparisons. They are two totally different recievers, playing totally different positions, with totally different body types.

Or havent you guys even taken time to notice?

Well their the same color YG4E, damn you can't have everything.

I think maybe what their trying to say is if can be the same type situation as Welker with the Pats.

Hartline is gonna play somewhere and he looks to be somewhat of a baller.

it can be

OK, dusty.

I'd only feel sorry for Tannehill if they fail to land him a #1 WR or resign Bush as the #1 RB. My guess is they resign Hartline, Fasano, Clemmons and Starks. The rest all test FA and likely walk.

Thoroughly enjoyed seeing the Heat win today even though I spent much of the game thinking about Serbia and heirloom tomatoes.


Dolfan Rick,

Ive heard too many times game announcers saying, "not a single Dolphin wr had separation".

Hartline was one of those wr's on the field when this was numerous times being said, A change of scenary or new ream doesnt fix that.

On the other hand, asked why he wanted Welker, Bellichik responded, "Every time we played against him(Welker) he gave us absolute fits trying to cover him."

Long ways from, "Not a single Miami wr got separation". Which Hartline was included in those wr's.

..Craig M...I wasn't trying to avoid your response earlier. But 3 times I tried to reply with well thought out posts to answer why I disagreed with you. I'm not sure why these posts are being deleted. It seems this has been an issue with other bloggers. I wish I knew what I said that was so offensive it couldn't be posted??? Anyway. I would love to answer you. The site will not let me. I'm sure in the next few months we will have ample time to debate..

Bring in Steven Jackson to back-up Miller.


Now, now, don't go cheap on Us here. We want the best replacements available.


Good point YG4E. Most of Harltine's catches in the 200 yd Arizona game were the back shoulder routes which don't take alot of seperation. He did make the catches though and a bunch of them.

..Part of what I tried to say to Craig today included what happens at running back. Now this is my thoughts, opinion. It doesn't make it right, or will all of you agree with it. But to me it makes a ton of sense. I have 2 guys targteted in this draft at running back. I think that they are 3rd to 4th round guys. Because of how they play..They could be immediete contributors, sharing the load with Miller, and whoever.

Jon Franklin, Mike Gillisee. Both are exactly the type of back born for this system. Both can catch the ball(Franklin a bit better then Gillisee)both can pass protect, so they will be ablie to play now. And both are one cut runners who could flourish in a zone scheme.

Some may balk at using another pick on a running back. So what. Ireland said so much as he was going to draft good players, playmakers. Either one of these guys would be a nice piece to our stable of running backs. And add depth to a position that is ready made to be a good unit.

Craig M This was one part of my post..

You want separation from the flanker spot? Draft Steadman Bailey.

Dolfan Rick,

Other than lack of tds, back shoulders catches seem to be the only thing Hartline's proficient at.

He often slips and falls on comeback routes, at times leading to picks.

Plus, you rarely see catches from him in the middle of the field. He seems to be a sideline only wr, only mastering the back shoulder catch. Hee seems far from complete wr.

Most People in Miami are not known for their open-handedness.


Forget Gillislee, he's rated to go as high as 2nd rd. No later than 3rd rd. The Franklin kid Ive never heard. But you should google Stephon Jefferson. He's projected 4th-5th rd.

Some scouts project Stephon Jefferson could be this years "Alfred Morris".


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