Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith revealed to Channing Crowder, Ryan Clark and Fred Taylor that he wanted to join the Miami Dolphins in 1993.
Smith, who was a key part of the Dallas Cowboys offense, explained that he was actually a restricted free agent when he didn’t show up to training camp right away in 1993.
In his rookie season, Smith’s four-year deal reverted to a three-year contract, making him a restricted free agent following Dallas’ Super Bowl win in Super Bowl XXVII against the Buffalo Bills.
“I didn’t hold out,” Smith said. “Holding out is when you have a contract, and you want more money. My contract was over. I had fulfilled my obligations.”
Since he was a restricted free agent, Smith could’ve received offers from other teams, but the Cowboys would’ve been able to match them if they wanted to retain him. At this point, Smith was just three years into the league, but he was already one of the game’s best running backs.
In the 1992 season, Smith ran for 1,713 yards and 18 touchdowns. Both of those marks led the NFL that season.
Shockingly, Smith didn’t get a single offer in restricted free agency.
“I get into restricted free agency,” Smith said. “I’ve got 30 days to negotiate with 20-some-odd teams to come play with them. And not one gave me an offer.”
It’s possible that all of those teams knew that the Cowboys and owner Jerry Jones would have matched any offer for Smith, but it’s shocking that nobody even wanted to take a chance.
Because of that, Smith, who played collegiately at the University of Florida, took matters into his own hands and called then-Miami head coach Don Shula.
“I picked up the phone and called Don Shula myself and told him I wanted to come to Miami and play for Miami,” Smith said. “Because I knew Dan Marino didn’t have a running game. And I said, ‘I want to come help you, help Dan, whatever, get a championship. Bring me back to the state of Florida.’ He said, ‘Well, I don’t know if I can make that offer, because if I do make this offer and you don’t come, all my other players will see what I put on the table for you, and it’s going to mess up my chemistry.’ I said, ‘Just put something on the table that Jerry says, ‘I cannot match it.’ He said, ‘I can’t do that.’”
Eventually, Smith would end up in Dallas, but not after he missed the team’s first two games of the 1993 season. The Cowboys lost both of those matchups, and they decided to bring Smith back on a new deal.
The Hall of Fame running back remained in Dallas through the 2002 season, cementing himself as one of the greatest players not only in franchise history, but in the history of the NFL.
During his storied career, Smith made eight Pro Bowls and won three Super Bowls. In the 1993 campaign, he was named the league’s MVP, rushing for 1,486 yards and nine scores in just 14 games.
Smith finished his career with the Arizona Cardinals, playing the 2003 and 2004 seasons with the franchise.
For Dolphins fans, it has to hurt to know that Smith wanted to play for Miami, but the team was unwilling to give him the offer he was asking for. Smith and Marino would have been quite the offensive duo and undoubtedly led Miami deep into the playoffs many times.