NFL free agency creates a lot of questions. Having nearly $50 million in cap space only creates more questions that must be answered. This is the position that the Miami Dolphins find themselves in, and while it is an enviable position, it does create as many tough questions as a team over the salary cap would face in terms of who to keep and who to let go.
We've seen Bleacher Report's Devin Noonan look at the players the Miami Dolphins must re-sign, and there was a name conspicuously absent from that slideshow.
No, I'm not referring to Jake Long, but Long is a special case who got his own profile from Bleacher Report's AFC East blogger Erik Frenz that essentially answered the question already.
I'm referring to cornerback Sean Smith. Smith would normally be considered one of the most important free agents on the Dolphins; however, his production in his four seasons with Miami plus the demand for corners in free agency makes it an easy question to answer.
Sean Smith is rated as the second-worst impending Dolphins free agent, according to ProFootballFocus.com. Some of the players rated ahead of Smith include safety Tyrone Culver, fellow cornerback Brian McCann, wide receiver Marlon Moore and linebacker Austin Spitler.
Compare this to a fellow free-agent cornerback that would be a better fit for the Dolphins in free agency, Jacksonville's Derek Cox.
Cox has a higher rating than Smith despite the fact that he played for a much worse team. At least Smith has the benefit of the Dolphins being able to run Cameron Wake at the quarterback, a luxury that isn't available in Jacksonville.
Cox is also a better fit for Miami's coverage scheme compared to the more physical Sean Smith (too many pass-interference penalties for my taste), and hasn't given up as many touchdowns or first downs as Smith. According to ESPN, Smith has given up more touchdowns and first downs than any other cornerback in the NFL (46).
The article that it came from (which is an Insider article) was titled "Top 10 Buyer Beware Free Agents."
Then there's this Bleacher Report slideshow that called Smith one of the biggest risks in free agency (to be fair, I did write it, but there wasn't exactly a run to defend Smith from my editors or readers).
The only way the Dolphins should sign Smith should be if he offers the ballclub a hometown discount, which is very unlikely to happen. Miami has far too many holes to fill and will likely look to the draft to answer questions in their secondary.
A better solution? Sign Derek Cox for less than Sean Smith would ask for, then trade down from the No. 12 pick in Round 1 and draft Johnthan Banks from Mississippi State, or go after Oregon State's Jordan Poyer in Round 2.
It's a solution that wouldn't be considered if the former second-round pick would've produced the way Miami expected him to when he was drafted in 2009.