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Marty Mac Ver 2.0
12-15-2004, 05:38 PM
Bucs' Smith looks to corner market
Dwight Smith, who has mostly played safety, says he'll seek a CB's pay in free agency.
By ROGER MILLS, Times Staff Writer
Published December 15, 2004

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TAMPA - In January 2003, as the nickel cornerback, Dwight Smith picked off two Rich Gannon passes and sprinted into the end zone in Super Bowl XXXVII.

A few months later, he responded to the Bucs' need for help at safety and switched positions.

Then, in the months before the season, Smith's hopes for a new contract were dashed when the Bucs couldn't work out a deal.

Through it all, Smith has shown up on game day, made his share of big plays and taken his lumps, too. He has played hurt and played hard.

But the fourth-year pro's intentions are clear: He's looking forward to free agency and wants to be a cornerback.

"I'm going on the free-agency market as a corner," Smith said. "You've got all these guys who I know I am a better corner than, and I see them getting $9-million, $8-million up front. And you want me to take a safety salary because you moved me to safety? I can't fathom it! It's not that I'm greedy, it's that you want to be paid what you're worth."

Smith, 26, a third-round pick out of Akron in 2001, has emerged as one of the Bucs' rising stars. After his Super Bowl performance, the Bucs realized they needed to keep Smith on the field and make the best of his cover skills and physical play.

When Super Bowl MVP Dexter Jackson left in free agency, the Bucs asked Smith to move to safety, and he obliged. He played the 2003 season under his rookie contract, finished with a career-high 85 tackles and five interceptions and seemed poised for a new contract.

The Bucs opted to go in a different direction, and Smith has played the 2004 season under a deal paying $418,000. In November, the Bucs signed third-year safety Jermaine Phillips to a four-year, $9-million contract that came with a $1-million signing bonus.

It is a development not overlooked by Smith.

"When you go about your business and do everything the team asks you to do, you can feel good about yourself," Smith said. "It would have been different if I didn't show up or if I was not playing well because they didn't want to extend me. I came and did everything they asked me to do. Now, if they want to drop the ball and not repay me for my services, then that's on them.

"The fans will have their say on that, but I have to keep my mind on football and keep it right. I have a family to take care of."

A fierce competitor, Smith wants the Bucs to turn around their fortunes and make the playoffs. As much as any of his teammates, he wants to win and win now. But he also knows what's ahead in free agency.

"Honestly, it's exciting," Smith said. "When you're an athlete, you only have two chances to really determine your destiny, to decide what you want to do and where you want to go. That's when you're leaving high school to go to college and when you're going on the free-agent market. You don't get those opportunities a lot.

"Of course, I would have loved to have been signed here, now, or right after the season, to stay here, but it's always great to get out there and see what people think about you and what your value is. To be honest, you want to weigh your options."

Smith has picked up where he left off last season. He has 77 tackles and two interceptions and is tied with linebacker Derrick Brooks with a team-high three forced fumbles.

New agent Drew Rosenhaus said Smith "feels that he can be a starting cornerback in this league" and knows his client would prefer to return to the Bucs.

"You always try to re-sign with your team, but we don't have a crystal ball," Rosenhaus said. "We'll do our best to work things out with (the Bucs)."

Traditionally cornerbacks garner more lucrative contracts than safeties.

Entering this season, the average salary of the NFL's five highest-paid cornerbacks - the number teams used when tagging franchise players - was about $6.8-million. That number was about $4.1-million for safeties. In a perfect world, Smith said, the Bucs would get on a playoff run, and he would sign a contract extension to keep him in a Bucs uniform for many more years. But he understands there are no certainties in the NFL.

"This is a business, and we have to look at it the way it is," Smith said. "When I got here, my coach was Tony Dungy and Tony got let go and it's not because he can't coach, or he's a bad guy. Sometimes, your time is just up in the places you have been.

"That's how you have to look at it. If the Bucs don't feel like I'm worth what I'm asking for or they can find a guy to do what I'm doing, more power to them. I thank them for giving me the opportunity to play in the Super Bowl, to play in the NFL. I can't be mad at them for the decisions they make on the business end. I have to live my life."

And the Bucs have to be conscious of their salary cap, particularly considering the money they have tied up in starting corners Brian Kelly ($2.8-million) and Ronde Barber ($3.25-million) in 2005.

"It's not like I'm going to ask for a Champ Bailey deal, where he got $19-million. I'm not asking for that," Smith said. "I'm just asking for you not to pay me as a safety, pay me as a (corner). I do more for this team than what another safety does for his team."

warpaint99
12-15-2004, 05:47 PM
converting a safety to corner.

sounds very familiar.

royr17
12-15-2004, 05:54 PM
He was a corner before converted to Safety and if i recall correctly he has some pretty good speed, he chased Kennison down from behind, I'd sign him in a heart beat.

Ari Chi3fs
12-15-2004, 06:00 PM
id sign him in half a heartbeat.

Dave Lane
12-15-2004, 08:24 PM
NO SAFETIES!!!!!

Dave

Bowser
12-15-2004, 08:29 PM
What? And waste that new contract Baretee signed? IDONTTHINKSO!!!!

ChiefsCountry
12-15-2004, 09:15 PM
He will go to the Raiders. Remember he was a Super Bowl MVP.

Rausch
12-15-2004, 10:00 PM
Sounds good to me. I say go for it.

JohnnyV13
12-15-2004, 11:24 PM
I'd like to suggest a revolutionary approach:

We could sign a safety in FA....and play him at ...ta da.....safety!

The Bad Guy
12-15-2004, 11:53 PM
I'd like to suggest a revolutionary approach:

We could sign a safety in FA....and play him at ...ta da.....safety!

The guy is really a cornerback. He switched to safety after Dexter Jackson left for Arizona.

HolmeZz
12-16-2004, 12:08 AM
Only 26 years old too. I'd sign him for a reasonable price.

DaWolf
12-16-2004, 02:01 AM
I don't care what he is, we need guys with a nose for the ball, instincts, and coverage ability, which would make them a playmaker. If he's got playmaking ability, I'm all for it, because we lack playmakers on this defense, and the only way Gunther's D works is if he has playmakers causing havok, forcing long yardage situations, and creating turnovers...

JohnnyV13
12-16-2004, 02:44 AM
well..i like him...but I'd take Buffalo's Nate Clements over him at corner, and I doubt we could get two expensive DBs like that.

I think its time for Woods to go...he's not making good decisions. But, I am not sure we can reasonably get out of his contract.

Here's a novel thought.....

Edgerton Hartwell
Dwight Smith
AND
Nate Clements

in FA....that would give us TWO fast playmakers in the secondary....

Knob
12-16-2004, 02:51 AM
Who? Damn when we gonna get a real corner. :cuss:

MichaelH
12-16-2004, 05:51 AM
But does he fit the profile? :banghead: