The Miami Dolphins have a few high-priced free agents set to hit the open market this offseason, and one of them is cornerback Sean Smith who is the most valuable of the three. At just 25, Smith has asserted himself as a very good starting cornerback in this league, but it seems like he is beginning to overrate himself after a very successful 2012 bounce-back campaign.
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Top beat writer Armando Salguerro of the Miami Herald reported that Smith and his agent believe that they can get deals similar to the ones given to Brandon Carr (Dallas Cowboys) and Jason McCourty (Tennessee Titans) last offseason, which means that Salguerro expects Smith to ask for something between $8 million and $10 million per year.
The interesting thing here is that is the speculated range for New England Patriots impending free agent CB Aqib Talib by CSNNE. Talib and Smith are similar corners in one way, because they both have a ton of potential but are inconsistent and might not be true No. 1 CBs. They can be, but they have lapses that make them an “average” No. 1 CB. Both players are certainly good, and I would rather have Talib than Smith. Another similarity between the two? Talib is 26, just one year older than Smith.
As Salguerro writes, Smith is not “franchise player material” or “elite”, and that’s the kind of money he wants. So if Smith wants that kind of money and he is similar (but a bit worse than Talib), then what does that mean for Talib? I think the Patriots should spend around $7 or $8 million per year on Talib max., because he gave up 8.3 yards per attempt while with the Pats in 2012. He was an important piece for the Pats in the secondary and I’d love to see the Pats re-sign him, but his main impact was allowing other players (Devin McCourty, Kyle Arrington) to slot into more natural positions. Talib had his moments of greatness (as usual) where he absolutely shut down the opposition, but he is also a little burn-prone and has some inconsistencies.
Smith, on the other hand, does not have the potential Talib has. I feel like it’s going to be extremely difficult for Smith to be an elite corner, because his issue is more fundamental. Being a big corner has its advantages in this league, as we are seeing with Smith and the Seattle Seahawks top duo. However, Smith struggles more so than other big CBs against smaller, faster receivers and that cuts into his value and potential to be a true shutdown corner. Meanwhile, Talib’s main issue is concentration which is something that can easily be solved with experience and discipline. Those are two things he will get more of while with the New England Patriots.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.