The Tampa Bay Buccaneers might already be working the phones to shore up the defense. With the start of “legal tampering” in the NFL free agent period, news has been slowly rolling in as to the players that teams are pursuing. As far as the Buccaneers are concerned, Jason Cole of Yahoo Sports reported this afternoon:
Leading candidates for CB Sean Smith, as if this moment, appear to be Tampa Bay, Arizona and Pats. But things are fluid.
— Jason Cole (@JasonColeYahoo) March 9, 2013
Smith is a free agent who ended the 2012 season in Miami, and is widely considered one of the best corners on the market. He’s big and physical and plays the ball extremely well, with the speed to keep up with the dynamic receivers in the tough AFC East. In other words, he fits what the Buccaneers are looking for in Greg Schiano’s defensive scheme, with the ability to play close man-to-man defense. But what is it going to take to bring Smith to Tampa Bay?
Adam Schefter was quoted on ESPN television as saying that Smith is looking for between 7 and 7.5 million dollars, which is a much more attractive number than the 10 million he was previously reported to be seeking. Because while Smith is certainly one of the best corners in the free agent field this year, he’s not without flaw. He’s not the best at changing directions, and doesn’t always seem to play up to his potential. He gave up lots of catches and first downs in 2012, but he was also the most targeted cornerback in the NFL and managed decent numbers considering the heavy workload.
On the other hand, he’s got no off the field issues and has been very durable, which would be an upgrade over Eric Wright, who struggles in both those areas. And with a contract number similar to that of Wright’s, releasing Wright and signing Smith is a direct upgrade at the cornerback position.
We will keep you updated as the free agent period approaches, as Smith will obviously be talking numbers, and roles, with multiple teams over the next few days. The competition for his signature could drive up his price, so it will be interesting what number Mark Dominik has in mind for Smith.