You can include me as one of the many who can't help but question the decision by this Dolphins' front office to seek a trade for left guard Justin Smiley. But for some reason, that's just what this team is doing. Bill Parcells reportedly called Smiley over the weekend to let him know that he shouldn't report to the team facility on Monday when the Dolphins began their offseason training program because the team was looking to trade him. And as shocking as it was for us fans to hear this news, you have to believe it really stunned Smiley - who was on a hunting trip at the time.
So what in the world is this front office thinking here? It can't be about the money, can it? Smiley is only due $2.9 million 2010 - hardly a large amount for a starting left guard who, when healthy, is one of the better guards in the NFL.
But that's just it - health. When the Dolphins handed Smiley a 5 year, $25 million deal during the 2008 offseason, they knew the risk. He had missed eight games in 2008. In '09, Smiley suffered a freak (but nasty) compound fracture to his leg, resulting in Justin missing the final four regular season games and home playoff game. Last year, Smiley missed only one game due to injury - but was limited to a reserve role in three other games due to shoulder issues as well as other nagging injuries.
But are a few injuries enough to trade away potentially the second best lineman on the roster?
Even with the signing last week of guard Richie Incognito and the emergence of the versatile Nate Garner last year, I just don't think this move is a good idea. Donald Thomas, the other guard that will be in the battle to win a starting job, has had injury issues himself and is still relatively raw. And all of Incognito's past "issues" have been well documented. Is he really somebody we can count on to put together an effective 16 games?
Let me just come out with it. When healthy, Smiley has consistently been the second best lineman on this team. And his 2010 salary is far from what I'd consider prohibitive.
Unfortunately, all the bitching and moaning by me or any other fans obviously will not change the team's decision. So now we have to talk compensation.
The Miami Herald reports that the early asking price is a third round pick, according to sources at the NFL annual owner's meeting. That wouldn't be bad compensation at all - though I do believe that when healthy, Smiley is far more valuable than a third round pick. But health is an issue - and will affect the trade compensation. There is some decent mid-round depth at the guard position in this draft. Mississippi's John Jerry is one prospect that caught the coaching staff's eye when they were coaching the south squad at the Senior Bowl. Others players like Arkansas's Mitch Petrus, Alabama's Mike Johnson, and Illinois's John Asamoah are other mid-round options as well.
But what team might be interested in surrendering a third round pick for Smiley? The Seahawks have been mentioned in many rumors and the one source I do know who has been right on past moves by this team tells me that Seattle is interested. However the Seahawks do not have a third round pick. They do have two fourth round picks, though. So keep an eye on Seattle as the draft nears.
Other teams who could use interior line help include Chicago, Cincinnati, and Atlanta. All three of those teams do have their third round picks. But the Bears have no picks earlier than their third rounder - and I doubt they'd be willing to deal their earliest pick in 2010 for the injury-prone guard.
On a side note, I just want to throw it out there that Miami's speculated asking price of a third round pick for Smiley is intriguing for another reason. The Dolphins have the 12th overall pick of the draft and, with an addition of a third rounder, would have two picks in round three. Could the Dolphins be plotting a move up in round one by packaging their first round pick with a third rounder? I'm just saying...
Regardless, I'm never a fan of giving up talent nor am I a fan of creating another hole on the roster. But by trading Smiley, that would be just what the Dolphins are doing. As fans, though, all we can do is hope for the best.