Giants coach Tom Coughlin has donned his best constipated rhino face today, after Pro Bowl wideout Steve Smith became the latest big-name free agent to join the Eagles. Coughlin says the Giants were promised a chance to match any other offers.
Agent Ben Dogra, who represents Smith, disagrees with the notion that a promise was made.
“I did not,” Dogra tells Mike Garafolo of the Newark Star-Ledger. “I never told them at any point. And, in fact, I’ll take it a step further. I told them, ‘Hey, I just want to be candid with you, I have another team that’s going to be in the mix on a one-year deal.’ So I did tell them that.
“If you have a sense of urgency, sometimes when you have a free agent, you can negotiate against yourself, you negotiate and wait for us or you just negotiate to get a deal done. That’s the prerogative of the club. We have no obligation to go back.”
I agree, and with all due respect to Coughlin I believe Dogra. Though coaches and agents generally have a history of telling the truth only when it coincidentally meshes with their broader strategic objectives, Dogra didn’t become one of the top agents in the industry by telling lies and/or failing to honor his word. Dogra has a reputation in league circles for only one thing: Busting his ass. (UPDATE: Of course, this paragraph has prompted at least one NFL insider to contact PFT with a passionate contrary opinion. And, as the source accurately pointed out, plenty of agents bust their asses.)
In this case, the Giants had every chance to get a deal done with Smith. They didn’t, and it’s not Dogra’s or Smith’s fault.
“Ask them the question: do they think their offer was too low?” Dogra told Garafolo. “If they thought it was too high and he left, then it worked out for everybody because they wouldn’t have paid more. If their offer was too low and they know it was low then shame on them.”
In the end, and as previously mentioned, Smith surely was troubled by Coughlin’s possible effort on Wednesday afternoon to scare away potential suitors by talking about the “long haul” that Smith faces to get his knee back to 100 percent. It looks like the Giants perhaps wanted to preserve the ability to bring back Smith while at the same time ensuring that no one else would sign him.
In the end, the Giants now have two former big-time receivers who have gone to other teams. Smith in their own division, and Plaxico Burress in their own backyard.