Sunday, March 18, 2012
Updated: March 20, 9:57 AM ET
QB Alex Smith visits Dolphins
ESPN.com news services
MIAMI -- Even in the offseason, the Miami Dolphins' quarterback carousel keeps spinning.
After being spurned by Peyton Manning, the Dolphins had a brief, unproductive courtship with Matt Flynn, then turned their attention Sunday to Alex Smith, the San Francisco 49ers free agent.
Smith left the Miami complex after a 5½-hour meeting. Dolphins officials declined to comment on any details about this visit.
The 49ers were one of three finalists in the Manning sweepstakes but the former Indianapolis Colts quarterback has decided to sign with the Denver Broncos, sources told ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen and ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. A contract agreement is expected to be a formality. It is unclear if San Franciso will intensify its efforts to re-sign Smith now that Manning won't be signing with the team.
The 49ers had been working to re-sign Smith but also went to North Carolina last Tuesday to watch Manning work out at Duke. Smith, the No. 1 overall 2005 draft pick, enjoyed his best season in 2011 under first-year 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, a former NFL quarterback.
Smith and Manning have the same agent, Tom Condon.
The San Francisco Chronicle, citing a league source, is reporting that Smith is considering changing agents because of a possible conflict of interest.
"This is the NFL. I guess nothing surprises me anymore," Smith told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel on Sunday.
"I never thought a year ago (Peyton) Manning would be a free agent either," Smith told the newspaper. "I'm never surprised by anything."
The 49ers emerged as a contender for Manning when the news surfaced that he worked out for Harbaugh at Duke. Manning also worked out for the Broncos on Friday at Duke, and for the Titans on Saturday in Knoxville, Tenn.
Manning has been rehabbing in North Carolina following a string of neck surgeries, which led Indianapolis to release him.
A new starting quarterback would be the Dolphins' 17th since Dan Marino retired following the 1999 season. Winless in postseason since 2000, they made signing Manning their top offseason priority, but he told them Thursday he would sign elsewhere.
They then courted Flynn, the former Green Bay Packers backup who had ties to new Dolphins coach Joe Philbin. Flynn visited Miami on Saturday, then agreed to terms Sunday on a multiyear deal with the Seattle Seahawks.
Flynn's contract with Seattle is worth $26 million with $10 million guaranteed, a league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
The Dolphins planned another QB interview Monday, when they were to host veteran David Garrard, a person familiar with the negotiations said. The person confirmed the visit to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team had not publicly discussed its plans.
Garrard, a starter for Jacksonville from 2005 to 2010, didn't play last season. He was released five days before the opener by the Jaguars, then underwent back surgery in October.
After all of their shopping, it's possible the Dolphins will stick with incumbent Matt Moore.
"Looks like Miami (is) going with Moore again," former Dolphins coach Jimmy Johnson tweeted after Flynn's deal with Seattle was announced.
While Moore played well last year, there are doubts he's a franchise quarterback.
Smith struggled early in his career but threw for 3,150 yards and 17 touchdowns with only five interceptions last season as San Francisco went 13-3 and made the NFC title game after an eight-year playoff drought. He orchestrated six comeback wins, four on the road.
Smith has been weighing a three-year offer from the 49ers. If he instead joins the Dolphins, he would be reunited with running back Reggie Bush. They were teammates at Helix Charter High School in La Mesa, Calif.
He landed at the Fort Lauderdale airport Sunday morning and arrived at the Dolphins complex in a car driven by trainer Kevin O'Neill. Philbin, new offensive coordinator Mike Sherman and general manager Jeff Ireland arrived earlier.
Chad Henne, who started 31 games for Miami over the past three seasons, signed Wednesday with the Jaguars as a backup.
San Francisco running back Frank Gore, who works out each offseason in Miami, said Sunday he hadn't spoken to Smith. Gore has long supported Smith through the quarterback's up-and-down seven NFL seasons.
Now, Gore and the 49ers are sitting tight to see what happens next.
"It's crazy," Gore said. "I'm waiting for whatever happens. I know coach Harbaugh and (general manager) Trent Baalke feel good about what they're doing."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.