The Miami Dolphins already announced what we all knew what was going to happen, as the team slapped star defensive tackle Randy Starks with the franchise tag. That means Jake Long, Brian Hartline, Sean Smith, and Reggie Bush are free to go, but none of those four players were expected to get touched with the tag due to differing reasons. Long isn’t worth tagging due to his declining skills, Hartline is solid and also not worth tagging, Smith is too inconsistent and expensive, and the Dolphins most likely won’t be keeping Bush.
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Hartline is the player of that list of four that the Dolphins have the best chance of keeping, because there is plenty of interest from the Dolphins organization in keeping him. He will also be the most affordable of the four, as Smith will be trying as hard as possible to get as big of contract for himself as possible. So yes, somebody is going to overpay him.
According to the Miami Herald, Brian Hartline wants to stay in Miami and both sides believe that a deal can be done before Hartline his free agency. That’s great news for the Dolphins and quarterback Ryan Tannehill, as the mutual interest means that Hartline will most likely be back catching passes as a consistent wideout for the team. The Dolphins could still nab a true No. 1 wideout in Greg Jennings or Mike Wallace as well, with the former option being more attractive than the latter.
Hartline wants $6 million per year for about three seasons, which is more money than the Dolphins will probably want to give him. As Armando Salguerro notes in the piece, the Dolphins could just sign a better wideout in Jennings for just $2 million more per year. Jeff Ireland takes a hard-line stance in negotiations, so there is also plenty of pessimism to go around.
As for Sean Smith, a source close to Salguerro stated that his priority his to “get paid” this offseason. That falls in line with the reports that Smith was crossing his fingers that he wouldn’t be tagged, and Salguerro was correct in reporting that the rumors of Smith being tagged were false. He is not a franchise player, gets burned too easily, is knocked by fans for poor tackling, and his talent is marred by inconsistency. Smith is a good player, but he’s too inconsistent and will, again, be overpaid by somebody. I expect the Dolphins to let Smith walk and for them to retain Brian Hartline.
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