The Justin Smiley Questions

So the Miami Dolphins have decided to part ways with their prize free agent signing at the stroke of midnight 2 seasons ago.  Justin Smiley has been told not to report to the teams voluntary workouts that began today and have informed the 28 year old guard that they would be seeking a trade.  There are a lot of questions that surround this move.

The first thing that seems to pop off the page is the fact that this is not very Bill Parcells like.  Notifying a player not to report knowing that the info would hit the media.  It does nothing to help facilitate a trade and surely does nothing to drive up the market on the player.  Quiet and behind the scenes is how he works.  So why do it now?

If that is question one, then question two would be why not have a trade in place first?  Maybe they do.  While it is unlikely, especially given the nature of the rumored asking price, a 3rd round pick, allowing the info to leak doesn’t guarantee anything.

Smiley has been injured the last 3 years.  He spent his last season with the 49′ers on IR, he went on IR with the Phins in his first year, and last year missed significant time as well with a shoulder injury.  As good a lineman as he is, his injury history will hardly entice teams to gamble on him.  Especially, in my opinion, with a 3rd round pick.

I suppose the next question is a tad more debatable if nothing else.  Is Justin Smiley another mistake in this regimes free agent approach?  Does he immediately join the ranks of Ernest Wilford and Gibril Wilson?  Of course not, at least not on that level.

Smiley was a 2nd tier lineman in 2008 coming to Miami immediately after midnight.  The Phins passed on the big name money guys and opted to take a risk on a player with an injury history who cost less.  In turn, the Dolphins got some use out of him and were able to get control of the salary cap and focus on filling needs across the board where depth was also an issue.

Smiley however provided something that can not be measured by his play on the field.  Instead, the final question would surround his value to the development of Jake Long.  Smiley was a right guard who moved to the left guard spot after he joined Miami.  He worked along side then rookie Jake Long who had a phenomenal year and made the Pro-Bowl his rookie season.

Smiley may have missed a lot of playing time, but when he was in there, it was hard to find a reason to complain.  I would say the answer to Smiley being a mistake is no.  His value to the team provided others to get better and the Dolphins to concentrate in other areas.

The other questions are not so easily answered and perhaps 3 weeks from now if a trade is made, we will have a better answer.  For now, it’s simply too early to guess.  One thing is for certain, the Dolphins are somewhat putting themselves in a position to not change their minds.  Asking a player to stay home from team workouts is a clear message that your not wanted.  Coming back and saying “we couldn’t find a team to take you” so come on back is a bitter pill to swallow.

So I suppose it’s only appropriate to ask one more.  What are your thoughts on this new development?

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  • dashall

    It is business but a cold way to conduct it. With the Incognito signing one of our guards was expendable. Smiley has some trade value. If we can not move him, we bring him back. I can’t see him being cut.

  • M Dot

    3rd round pick sounds high for him, i would be surprised to see if anyone just jumped on that

  • Jay in Raleigh

    I think that when the team targeted/signed Smiley, there was a very specific set of circumstances. The Trifecta recognized that they were not in a position to compete for elite-level FAs and knew they would have to overpay to compensate for the current state of the team (almost completely devoid of talent).
    Smiley was a good target because he was young and talented. Of course, he was available due to the risk involved (injury), but it was a good risk for the team two years ago. They overpaid and got the guy they needed to stabalize the line.
    Two years later, they have built some low-cost depth at the position and are able to shed Smiley’s overpriced contract (due to the uncapped year). To get a draft pick in return is just icing.
    In all, I think it was a good signing that plugged a very important hole until the team was able to find other solutions.

  • Brian Miller

    I got to talk to Justin in his first year in Miami…what a great guy. Seriously. I think was the almost perfect FA signing that accomplished what the Phins hoped for…health aside.

    BTW…you all can talk more one on one about this by joining our forum. Simply click on the forum menu tab and have at it!