Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
The Patriots could address their need at the cornerback position by pursuing a free agent from a division rival: Miami's Sean Smith.
The New England Patriots have a clear need at cornerback heading into this offseason, as all three of their top players at the position are uncertain for next year. Aqib Talib and Kyle Arrington are unrestricted free agents, while second year pro Alfonzo Dennard's future is uncertain as he awaits sentencing for assaulting an officer in 2011.
That being said, according to Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports, the New England Patriots are amongst the leading candidates for one of the top free agent cornerbacks on the market, Sean Smith:
Leading candidates for CB Sean Smith, as if this moment, appear to be Tampa Bay, Arizona and Pats. But things are fluid.— Jason Cole (@JasonColeYahoo) March 9, 2013
Patriots fans know Sean Smith very well from his time with the Miami Dolphins. At 25, Smith would provide a further injection of youth to the Patriots secondary. However, he'll also provide something quite unique: size. At 6'3" and 218 lbs, Smith is one of the bigger bodies at the position in the NFL. Having missed just one game over the course of his four year NFL career, he'd also provide durability - another trait that has plagued many members of the New England secondary over the last few seasons.
In 2012, Smith recorded 59 tackles, 12 passes defensed, and two interceptions. Playing primarily in the left cornerback spot, Smith was a bit up and down in coverage in 2012, being targeted by opposing quarterbacks quite a lot. According to ProFootballFocus.com, Smith was targeted 113 times in 2012, allowing 62 completions (54.9%), allowing six touchdowns, and an average of 11.8 yards per catch. Smith didn't allow a gain of more than 31 yards.
As long as Smith comes at a reasonable price, he'd be a nice pick-up for the Patriots, with his blend of size, youth, and cover skills.