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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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To me whats more likely is Long, Starks, and Fasano returning.

That would i guess leave aprox $16 million for free agents. One of which you would hope would be a cb if Smith isn't resigned.

Ross wants to get a handout for the stadium before he cuts the high priced players. Ross is taking the fans and taxpayers money and delivering a minor league team. No aid for a crap owner and his empty stadium!!

I can see Fasano returning by default. He's comfortable here and no team desperately needs a blocking TE or any TE really. I'd love to keep him AS A BACKUP or, if we fail to secure a stud/good TE AGAIN this season I'd settle for Fasano, just as long as the reason we didn't get a good TE is because we plugged holes to our secondary, OL, and WRs

but oscar he never goes all the way? guy is mediocre with a lot of tease talent. i have no prob with him being gone

im tired of the garbage fasano is personally. long is going downhill quickly, no thanks unless at a huge reduced rate. starks is the man. let smith and bush walk also. hartline def should be resigned but with the rumors now that he is wanted by half the league it doesnt look good

dusty, I thought teams could sign their own pending FAs at any time?

Miami D20: Patterson was picked up off waivers for the remaining 2 games of 2012- that's all he need be paid. His previous contract was for $4.6M which, of course, the Dolphins can terminate. Marshall has a cap hit of $5.8M for 2013, $2.3M of that is dead money if cut.

no billcale

Ross wont pay anyone thats good. No stars = no attendance. No wonder we stink.

Once again, dusty, in this debate over letting go of our Players the $1 mill question surfaces. Do we have a better replacement for him?

ross pays whoever his idiot "friend" fireland tells him to. this is only ross's fault by the fact that he is blinded by his friendship with ireland. ireland makes the moves, which have been awful to this point

I'm beginning to conclude Hartline is gone as well. Starting to prepare for life with Bess as our WR....

Fasano isn't desirable by any means but for 2m he saves up space for Long or even Hartline or Starks and he isn't complete garbage, just means we go another year without a threat to the opposing linebackers, which is what's undesirable

yes oscar. miller for bush. for starks,no odrick isnt. for long, ill go even with martin. for smith, well yes any mediocre guy off street. for fatso, yes even u id take.

I like Homerun Hitters.

Miami D20: Patterson was picked up off waivers for the remaining 2 games of 2012- that's all he need be paid. His previous contract was for $4.6M which, of course, the Dolphins can terminate. Marshall has a cap hit of $5.8M for 2013, $2.3M of that is dead money if cut.
Posted by: billcale | February 10, 2013 at 09:41 AM

Hmmm my facts on them were all screwed up. Bring them in for a look during camp but I would cut them or at least try and rework Patterson's contract otherwise start fresh. They aren't worth a combined 10m

On the Bush conversation. I saw Reggie "go all they way" with my own eyes several times this season. I'm not sure it was ever over 30 yds but he did get in the endzone.

Reggie is a special player but I think he's a luxury the Dolphins don't think they need at $6/7 million a year when they have Lamar Miller needing to get more touches.

What I worry about is depth at rb if Bush leaves. Daniel Thomas hasn't proved to be a guy you can count on yet.

Reggie had a 60 or 70+ yard homerun then a 25-30yarder in the same game against Oakland. The second one being a thing of beauty

I am more excited this year about FA than I am the Draft. ALL Teams will let go of even great Players for $ reasons. We just have to wait.

yup vs oakland. then never did another thing. always banged up. miller cant least do exactly what he has done for us


I don't believe you're right on Patterson. Armando ran some cap numbers a couple of weeks ago and I believe he indicated the Dolphins were on the hook for Patterson cap hit this year if he were to be cut. By my memory, if he were cut he'd count the full amount against the cap. You guys remember that as being different?

no craig hes right, he cant be cut without costing us a thing

can be cut i meant

Thanks MiamiD20 I remember that. I think he deserves to get paid right about where he was paid last season. In the top 6 or 7 rb's in the league.

I just don't think it will be us that pays him. We have Lamar Miller who will cost a lot less and I don't think Philbin and Sherman think his style is needed in their spread offense.

Part of the reason Ross keeps Ireland is Ireland kisses butt and allows Ross to "meddle". It was well publicized that it was Ross who picked Tannehill.

could be true oscar, there will be a ton of players cut soon. free agency will go fast with new rules this year allowing teams to start talking to them right after combine. so u will see a ton of contracts signed the first day of free agency

New rule this year is that FA's can start talking with any of the teams once the combine begins. So this is going to make FA all that more interesting.

Posted by: Craig M | February 10, 2013 at 09:52 AM

I heard he was due 4.5m regardless. Maybe he doesn't count towards the cap but Ross will have to pay him anyway? Not sure entirely but I didn't think he was free. If we can cut him give him a look then do it unless Philbin concludes he's worth the 4.5m. As for Marshall, if he costs is only 2.3 against the cap (or nearly 6m otherwise) then he isn't worth it. That is a little less than what we can sign Hartline for. CBs and DEs are (apparently) well stocked in this draft class compared to WR. Grab the WR in FA and solidify the defense in the draft. Now as for that OL piece it's a catch-22. We draft one high fans are POd, sign one to big money and fans are still POd, personally I'd rather get the right one in FA if not I'm not complaining getting one in 2nd round unless we're using that ammo to trade up or back into the 1st

1 rice
2 richardson
3 ridley
4 mcfadden
5 charles
6 foster
7 jones drew
8 johnson
9 morris
10 mccoy
11 peterson
12 forte
13 williams
14 martin
15 gore
16 lynch

theres 16 backs def better than bus. no way does he deserve top 6 or 7 paid backs

Craig M: here's a link to a good breakdown of Dolphins roster, FAs and salary cap.

See, that's a full of Sense guy in Rick.

I would love to keep Bush at 4m a year but he's going to want money and starter playing time while we are going to try and wade Miller along. He's a great leader and a threat (or bust) every play. It's either 10 yards with a sweep or -2.

I think Sherman mishandled and didn't utilize him properly. He might not be able to run a route but aren't we all screaming for a seam threat? Why not line him up in the slot and make LBs panic? Thomas or Miller in back and Bush out wide on the occasional play OR Miller and Bush in the backfield on either side of Tannehill? Makes the defense think....we were too anemic, too obvious of an offense

MiamiD20, who wouldnt want Bush at 4 mill when he's worth 8?? LOL

For arguments sake: I'd rather Bush than Chris Johnson, MJD, or Forte at this point, mainly because of the money hit those RBs cost while Bush, for half the price, brings in similar results.

Did you put Deangelo Williams on that list over Bush? Completely disagree Williams had one good season and has been a bust. Panthers spent a lot of money on that backfield tandem and are paying for it with their poor record each year


Yeah I just did a little digging on it and I see that now. Still, I'm not a fan of getting rid of both Marshall and Patteron at this point. I'm also not a fan of resigning Sean Smith, unless he were to give this team a major discount.

So what are you proposing we do at cornerback? Under your plan we'd be starting over back there, no?

MiamiD20, who wouldnt want Bush at 4 mill when he's worth 8?? LOL
Posted by: mike | February 10, 2013 at 10:09 AM

Exactly, that's why he isn't coming back next year. Someone will pay him that money and it won't be us. If he wants to give us a discount because we're the reason he's a respected player in the league and no longer known as a bust then I will welcome him back with open arms. But for nothing more than 4-5m; which is why I know he's gone

I'd keep Patterson at his current salary and see if we get Marshall to re-negotiate. $4.6 mil on a one year deal isn't crazy money for Patterson. Not when you've got a guy like Smith looking for $8-10 mil a year. You get rid of Patterson and you're going to be drafting an unproven kid high or paying $8-10 mil for some other FA. I would think Patterson, a re-negotiated Marshall and a kid drafted top three rounds is the way I would go. I also like the CB Lewis from Pitt a lot, depending on how pricey he got.

Craig, of the two Patterson is worth keeping over Marshall. It depends who's available as a FA at CB that is relatively cheap with potential. Some people have tossed some names out in the blog but I can't attest to them. I would also like a CB in round 1 (once we trade back into it...) Patterson and a 1st round pick and someone random at corner isn't as bad as we were last year. But no thank you on Smith. I'll personally roll out the orange carpet and let him waltz on out of here

It's not so much that we can beguin to talk to FAs early the reason why good Players will be let go by Teams. Is that even top-notch rookies will come at bargain basement prices now as compared t FAs.

I guess you can look at Bush like the Saints did. They wanted to use Reggie as returner and has a situational back depending on the formation they wanted to run.

Reggie wanted to be a fulltime back so they let him go and signed Darren Sproles for less money.

I think Reggie proved he "can" be an every down back but he's not necessarily proficient at it.

Its just too bad market value works like it does because I think Reggie...(and I'm just guessing)wants to be a part of this team and would take a different role now that he feels like he's proven his point.


Yeah that sounds about right.

Not a fan of drafting a guy in the first round at CB. I think we have bigger needs and I just don't see the shutdown corner this year, other than maybe Milliner. I'd be more comfortable taking a guy in the second or third rounds. Coyle seems to be good at working with CBs, so unlike Smith and Davis, I think they'll get better coaching from a guy like Coyle than what they got when they came into the league.

Not sure the price tag will ever get as high as $8mil for Bush. I expect a very soft market for him. He's just not a guy you can trust to be an every down back and teams aren't investing in running backs the way they have before. Having said that, I could see a team like the Chargers or Raiders taking a chance on him.

I think they should pay Reggie. We have plenty of cap space and it seems like he is the entire offense.

bill and others, please remember the history of Ireland (or really any GM). 9 picks in the Draft means not much (this year). Let's look at 2012, which many (including me) thought was a pretty good draft year for Ireland. We got 2 starters out of it (and another 2-3 contributors). That's 4-5 spots. Look at all the holes we currently have, and math alone should tell you we will sign some of our FAs, pick-up new FAs and finish off with the Draft. We can't do this through the Draft alone, because finding 4-5-6 starters is not realistic. There are some positions which translate quickly to the NFL (i.e RB, DE/LB, CB, S) and some that do not (WR, QB), generally (or historically).

So I imagine Bush is likely gone (RBs are a dime a dozen), Starks, Long might be gone (as there are younger, cheaper players currently on the team to replace them (not saying they will be as effective, talking purely from a personnel standpoint) and at least 1 if not more DBs (Smith, Patterson, Marshall, Clemons) because that's the worst position group on the team and needs the most upgrading. I think Hartline, Fasano likely stay (being "Philbin" character guys). WR additions through FA AND Draft, oline (FA), DE (draft), DBs (FA/Draft).

That's my gut feeling, obiously depends what happens in March, first few days will be telling IMO.

Craig, I wouldn't mind if Jeff cleared out the whole CB group and started over again. Really.

But Patterson, Marshall and McCann would be OK with me as nucleus. Wilson, Carroll and the other CBs need to find other things to do. Patterson and Marshall's contract have to be reworked to be more cap-friendly. Still I think better players, for the kind of money Marshall and Patterson are to get, can be found in FA.

No way should the Dolphins spend 8-10 mil on a backup CB Smith.

The problems I have with Reggie are that he disappeared for a huge stretch of games during the season. The second is the fumbling. What camp Reggie is saying..is that his salary in 2012 is the floor to begin negotiations in other words he wants 5 mil +.

I give Ireland credit for taking a chance that Bush could be more than a 3rd down back which is what he was in NO but it hasn't worked out well enough. The Phins have said their biggest regret of the season is that they didn't give Miller enough touches. Sounds like Reggie has helped talk himself out of town with his salary demands.

Craig/bill, to me CB and TE will be the most interesting (and telling) positions to watch. So many different options, and so much risk/reward. My hypothesis is if we can get playmakers specifically in those 2 positions, you will see a huge improvement on both sides of the ball next year. If we fail to upgrade those positions, no matter what else happens I don't see much improvement (just a hunch based on the direction of the NFL).

Someone one here the other day mentioned Derek Cox a cb with the Jags. I don't know much about him but he is a FA and apparently was the Jag's best corner.

As far as Marshall, I wonder if Coyle really a good chance to get a good evaluation of him? Chances are they will bring him back. I also keep saying that I find it strange that we paid 4.5 million for a cb off waivers last year. Does Coyle have some history with Patterson?

Dolphins could draft Tharold Simon out of LSU and he is the same CB physically as Smith with better hands.

I agree, DC we have too many holes to fill and, unfortunately, we are going to have to sign high price FA's to fill them. Also, RBs are a dime a dozen is true; good RBs are a dime a dozen is not(true).


I don't believe you can clean house on CB. Not saying any of them are great but we have too many other needs to have to replace Marshall, Patterson and Smith as well. If they don't resign Long, then they need to add a tackle somehow. If you're going to move Jerry to RT, then we need to find another guard. If we let Starks go and move Odrick inside then someone else has to play DE. And I haven't even mentioned yet that we need add at WR and TE, for me, two of our biggest holes.

DC is right. With the combination of the draft and FA, I believe we're being optimistic at best to be able to add 4-5 starters in all. So gutting us of ALL our FAs makes no sense to me. Patterson at $4.6 mil for ONE year isn't a bad contract.

DC Dolfan@10:27, I agree. I am hoping for 1 top CB in FA and 2 TEs in FA. 2 good 4-year TEs from FA give immediate offensive impact and added blocking strength on the O-Line- big upgrade to the offense. A top CB would do wonders for our defensive backfield.

oscar, true (on good RBs), but everything Bush did, the team believes (if I'm reading the tea leaves) Miller can do. And he's bigger so likely more durable. So like Long, Starks, does Bush's re-signing improve the team more than say a WR (or Wallace's stature) or TE or Tackle/Guard or DE. Unless Ireland can get any of those guys (Bush, Long, Starks) to sign for much less than they want, I believe he makes the calculation the money he saves there can be better spent elsewhere.

Dolfan Rick,

Patterson's a good athlete. We're not committed to this guy long-term. I believe as a one year guy, with a chance to prove himself, it's a good move. I believe in Coyle and I believe his history shows he's done a good job working with CBs. If we need to add in FA, then great. But I don't see the Dolphins throwing crazy money at the position and I'm OK with that. I don't beleieve Jeff Irelands model pays CBs the kind of money Brandon Carr got last year in FA and while I like Carr a lot, I'm in favour of this model too. For as good as Carr is, the Dallas secondary was torched REPEATEDLY last year.

Craig, I'd rather keep Patterson than Marshall. I'm worried about recurring back injuries. Especially at that position. Also, I think Wilson stays as a nickel/or safety. He's been playing out of position, and is a good special teams player. I really don't know about Smith. Our DC wants turnovers, so that would lead me to believe they let him walk. But his size (and flourishes this Season) might act as fools gold. That's a decision I don't envy the GM for having to make (could be lose-lose).

I, don't know Patterson as a Football player from beans. I saw him for a short time wth Us and he looked good. Does that translate that he will continue to be good for Us? Was he good before Us? Why they let him go mid-Season? Questions to ask.


I think you are being VERY optimistic if you think Jeff Ireland is going to sign TWO TEs in FA. I just don't see it happening. That hasn't been his history. Who did you have in mind?

At best, I think he'll sign a TE in FA and take one in the draft and I think that's being overly optimistic too. My fear is he'll bring Fassano back, give Egnew more time with Clay and either add a guy in the draft or FA. Not good enough.


It's low risk on Patterson for a year. We're not going to solve all our problems this offseason. We have money to spend this offseason and Patterson's contract is not a detriment to what we want to do. I actually like the potential in Marshall too. Be nice if he'd renegotiate but if not, let's see what he's got and make a decison based on his health. He did beat Davis out for the job last year and while I'm not saying he's a Pro Bowler, I think he affords us the opportunity to focus our attention elsewhere.

Craig M, I can't dispute that Dolphins need players everywhere. The CB problem probably can't be truly fixed in 1 year. But it can be improved from 2012 by judicious use of FA.

I don't know about Patterson. It looks like the Browns got caught up with problems in their CB group when they signed him. When the starters got healthy, they jettisoned Patterson. How good could he be? And it's not like he has "chemistry" with the CB group in Miami after less than 2 games.

Yeah, Ireland gives his Players lots of Time. Philbin, very little(see Gates).

The million dollar question is how many holes does Ireland think the team has? Does he think we need another TE or DE? Does he think we need 1 WR or 2? Does he want to stand pat at CB? Does he want Clemmons back?

Yeah billcale,

I'm not in favour of your plan to scrap all the CBs. Just too many holes to fill. I think you're opening up holes where holes don't need to be opened. You forget, there are a lot of FA who wouldn't pick Miami to play, probably because of the lack of success the last 15-20 years. Patterson should have every opportunity to build 'chemistry' with these guys. He didn't look bad in the time I saw him.

You're correct, you can't fix all the problems in one year. I'm not a fan of having a brand new string of CBs back there and I'm not a fan of throwing big money at the position in FA. I'd much rather add a body or two in the draft or cheaply in FA.

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