"I want to be here," Smiley said. "I'm not asking to big-time anybody or over-the-top them. I just want what's fair. We'd make it worth their while and discount them to be here. But right now, we're far apart." The 49ers and Smiley exchanged proposals during the season. The 49ers could have signed Smiley during the season for less than $10 million in guaranteed money. But then free-agency happened and the market value of guards skyrocketed.
Niners coach Mike Nolan called Smiley and admitted that the team's initial contract offer was low, saying it was a mistake because they didn't know what guards would command this offseason. But at this point, even the counter-proposal from Smiley and his agent, Pat Dye Jr., looks meager.
It might take closer to $15 million to get a long-term deal for Smiley done. The market was set with Eric Steinbach, Kris Dielman and Derrick Dockery each receiving at least $17 million in guarantees. The Seahawks tried to pay similar money to San Diego guard Kris Dielman, but Dielman stayed put. Seattle's offensive line situation has been tenuous at best since losing guard Steve Hutchinson to the Vikings before the 2006 season. As 2007 minicamps begin, the news about starting center Chris Spencer's shoulder could be less than encouraging. Spencer will be seeing Dr. James Andrews soon to see if he needs additional surgery. Should Spencer be out for any significant time, there aren't really any answers behind him at the position. Right guard Chris Gray might have to move over. The Seahawks are trying Ray Willis, drafted three years ago as a tackle, at right guard through their current minicamp drills.
Smiley had a solid season for the 49ers at right guard. He helped running back Frank Gore rush for a franchise-record 1,695 yards last season. "Every day teams are trying to entice them, and it makes me feel good because I know last season I had a good season and this year I'm taking it to another level," Smiley said. "I'm very excited about it."
Smiley sustained a torn labrum in his left shoulder in the second game of the season and played the rest of the year with the injury. He underwent offseason surgery on Jan. 16. After initially losing 28 pounds in three weeks, Smiley now weighs 313 pounds after playing last season at 295.
"I play fast and I play hard, and I do the right things on and off the field," Smiley said. "If I get banged up, I'm going to play hurt. I pride myself in that."