The New York Giants coach said Thursday that the team didn't have a chance to match the one-year, $4 million offer that the wide receiver accepted the previous day with the Eagles, according to The Star-Ledger. Coughlin claims Smith's camp told him the Giants would be made aware of any offers from other teams.
"Well, I am upset, and so is everybody," Coughlin said. "But we're disappointed in the fact it's like lining up for the race and you're in the locker room and nobody tells you the race is going to be run. That's the disappointing thing here.
"I don't think we were given the opportunity to do what we could have done."
Smith's agent, Ben Dogra, disputed Coughlin's claim.
"I did not. I never told them at any point (that they would have the chance to match other offers)," Dogra told The Star-Ledger. "And, in fact, I'll take it a step further. I told them, 'Hey, I just want to be candid with you, I have another team that's going to be in the mix on a one-year deal.' So I did tell them that.
"If you have a sense of urgency, sometimes when you have a free agent, you can negotiate against yourself, you negotiate and wait for us, or you just negotiate to get a deal done. That's the prerogative of the club. We have no obligation to go back."
Smith, who set the Giants' single-season record with 107 receptions in 2009, visited the team for two days earlier this week. He also was examined by team doctors as he recovers from microfracture knee surgery.
Coughlin suggested after the visit that Smith had "a long haul" until he would be able to return. Smith refuted that prognosis after signing with the Eagles, saying he believes he's "pretty close" and can play soon.
Coughlin clarified his stance Thursday, according to The Star-Ledger, saying he believed Smith was still four to six weeks away from practicing.
But the damage is done. Smith is an Eagle, and Coughlin contends the Giants never received a counter-offer from Dogra and weren't brought back into the discussion after being told they would be.
"I'm disappointed, obviously," Coughlin said. "We thought he'd be a Giant all the way, with the circumstances and the fact (Giants team physician Russ) Warren did the surgery. I think we know quite a bit about what it takes to get him back on the field.
"But having said all of that, we certainly know that's the nature of our business. There are some disappointing factors involved, which I'm not going to get into because I'm not the one to speak on that. But we're disappointed he's not here."
Dogra also disputed Coughlin's contention that the Giants never heard from the agent after their initial offer.
"That's not true. They did hear from me," Dogra said. "I told them I got (the offer) and I told them I had another team in the mix and we were going to explore all of our options. I never told them I was going to counter or not counter."
"He got a stronger commitment from Philadelphia on the short and possibly the long," Dogra said, "and that was it."