NFL: Dolphins expected to trade veteran guard Smiley
By Jeff Darlington
The Miami Dolphins are on the verge of a considerable change to the complexion of their offensive line, deciding to pursue a trade that will send veteran guard Justin Smiley to one of several potential suitors, sources said Monday.
The trade is not yet near completion, but the team is actively shopping him and preparing for the 2010 season without his presence at the position.
Smiley, 28, has been one of the unit’s most experienced and consistent players, but the Dolphins are concerned about his future durability after dealing with chronic shoulder issues during the past three years.
Smiley has started 12 games each of the last two seasons.
Vice president of football operations Bill Parcells called the veteran this weekend to notify him of the team’s plans.
Smiley, who was in his home state of Alabama on a hunting trip, was not happy about leaving the Dolphins.
The Dolphins would have a major hole to fill given Smiley’s leadership in the locker room and consistency on the field. Those qualities, however, were apparently not overwhelming enough when Miami took his shoulder into account.
In 2007, Smiley underwent shoulder surgery while playing for the 49ers, ending his season after eight games. San Francisco did not re-sign him and he was picked up by the Dolphins.
Last offseason, Smiley had more surgery to make additional repairs. And in November, Smiley once again injured the shoulder, causing him to shift out of the starting lineup for four games.
Despite the injury, Smiley still only missed one game full game.
The Dolphins last week signed free agent guard Richie Incognito in a move that seemed to improve the level of competition at right guard with Donald Thomas, who is entering his third NFL season.
Incognito’s importance will likely soon increase, given the potential new void at left guard in the wake of Smiley’s situation.
In addition, third-year left tackle Jake Long will have to step up as the leader of the offensive line.