The Miami Dolphins will be operating with a healthy dose of salary cap space this offseason, which should allow the team to retain core impending free agents while also being active on the open market. The Dolphins’ most valuable in-house free agent is arguably cornerback Sean Smith, who had a breakout season under first-year defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle in 2012.
According to Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post, the Dolphins will “almost certainly” place the franchise tag on Smith if they can’t sign him long term before free agency commences. Volin does not consider fellow impending free agent Jake Long a realistic franchise-tag candidate after a poor season that ended on injured reserve. Long tore his triceps in early December, and the 2013 franchise number for offensive linemen is expected to be $15.365 million.
The franchise number for cornerbacks will be more affordable ($10-11 million), and Smith has missed just one game in his four-year career. The Dolphins would certainly prefer to lock up Smith with a lucrative extension. But either way, it sounds like he’s not going anywhere.