The list of available cornerbacks features a few big names at the top who will command the most money. The recent contracts given to Brandon Carr and Jason McCourty, along with the contract given to Tampa Bay’s Eric Wright, have set the market price for these corners as they hit free agency. Carr makes 10 million dollars per year, and that means he’s the example for other second tier corners to follow. Any cornerback not perceived to be a top notch, shutdown cornerback should ask for around 10 million, because Carr was not a fantastic cornerback before signing his contract with the Cowboys.
This inflation in the cornerback market is going to have a direct impact on the Buccaneers this offseason, as they search for replacements for Eric Wright and Aqib Talib. Sean Smith is a name that keeps on surfacing, and his agent is fully aware of the going rate for defensive backs. According to his Rotoworld profile, Smith is going to ask for between eight and ten million dollars per year on his next contract that he will negotiate this offseason. Unsurprisingly there’s also a post on his profile on the same site letting us know that he and the Dolphins are far apart on contract talks, meaning Smith will undoubtedly become available for teams to negotiate with in March.
So, the question then becomes is Smith worth more than what we gave to Eric Wright? I don’t believe he is. Smith is certainly a big enough corner to fit what Coach Schiano looks for, as he’s a beast of a man at the cornerback position at 6 feet 3 inches tall and weighing in at almost 220 pounds. However, the size almost never comes with the quickness, and Smith struggles to keep up in man-to-man situations. According to Rotoworld, he “allowed the most combined first downs and touchdowns of any cornerback in 2012.”
Think about that.
Smith’s best year in his short NFL career was 2010, at least according to Football Outsiders. He ranked much higher in getting stops, and allowed fewer yards per play than in 2011. Strangely enough, this was also the season he saw the fewest passes thrown his way. Smith would likely get the assignment of covering the best receiver if he were in Tampa Bay, and would once again see a high percentage of passes thrown to his receiver. Smith is not a #1 cornerback in this league, according to these statistics. Once Football Outsider’s 2012 statistics are made available, it will shed more light on how Smith stacks up, but based on the information Rotoworld provided, it doesn’t seem like he is a franchise corner under any circumstances.
Sean Smith might be the kind of player who just needs a change of scenery. He could wind up being a top notch cornerback with whatever team he signs for in 2013 in spite of these numbers and projections. But at the price tag he and his agent are going to demand and the concerns about his ability to handle a heavy workload as a number one cornerback, I’d rather that new scenery not be the beautiful sights and sounds of Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa.
I want to know what you think, Bucs fans. Is Sean Smith worth 10 million dollars per year? Are you willing to pay that much for any cornerback that’s on the market this offseason? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.