Latest On Dolphins’ Trades, Strategy

In addition to moving on from numerous veterans this offseason, the Dolphins have now traded two players who were seemingly building blocks in Laremy Tunsil and Minkah Fitzpatrick. These moves appear to have tripped the NFL’s alarm.

The Tunsil trade involved numerous Texans offers, with Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reporting the steps the AFC teams took to finalizing the trade that sent the left tackle to Houston. The Texans’ offers went from Jadeveon Clowney-for-Tunsil, straight up, to Clowney and a first-rounder for Tunsil to first- and second-rounders for Tunsil. The Dolphins managed to drive the price to two first-rounders and a second-round selection and requested tackle Julie’n Davenport in return, Salguero notes.

Upon seeing the Texans’ deal-closing offer on a board in Chris Grier‘s office, Tunsil told the Dolphins GM, “I would trade me for that too,” Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald adds (via Twitter).

In reshuffling their power structure after last season, the Dolphins were not planning to jettison Tunsil, Fitzpatrick, Kiko Alonso or T.J. McDonald. (The Dolphins dealt Alonso to the Saints and released McDonald.) Brian Flores‘ coaching staff clashed with Alonso, Salguero adds, and asked him to play multiple roles — including edge defender. The Dolphins demoted the highly paid linebacker before trading him.

Fitzpatrick is a Steeler, being dealt after a trade request. The second-year defensive back was not on board with the versatile role the Dolphins asked him to play, and Salguero adds the team never found a sufficient comfort level that would allow Fitzpatrick to settle in at one spot. Both Grier and owner Stephen Ross attempted to help Fitzpatrick and Miami’s coaching staff find common ground.

Myself, Brian, and Steve (Ross) — we had multiple conversations with him, saying we wanted him here and viewed him as a core piece and wanted him here,” Grier said. “The kid just felt it was time for him to move, and we told him what the value was. We told teams we had multiple offers, and we felt that the Pittsburgh one was the one best for the organization.”

Fitzpatrick’s rookie deal was worth $16.447MM over four years. Similar to the deal in which the Dolphins acquired Josh Rosen, the Steelers are only on the hook for Fitzpatrick’s base salaries. Pittsburgh has the 2018 No. 11 overall pick under contract through 2021 for $5.48MM, Field Yates of ESPN.com notes (on Twitter).
The Dolphins now hold three 2020 first-round picks. A building suspicion in NFL circles centers on the prospect this Dolphins rebuild may be a stealth effort for Trevor Lawrence in 2021, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. But Salguero adds one of Miami’s three 2020 first-rounders will be used to draft a quarterback — regardless of how Rosen performs in what now may be an extended audition. The Cardinals in 2018-19 and Baltimore Colts in 1982-83 were the most recent franchises to draft first-round passers in consecutive years, so as of now it looks like this oft-labeled tanking strategy is built around Justin Herbert or Tua Tagovailoa (should he enter the 2020 draft).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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23 comments on “Latest On Dolphins’ Trades, Strategy

  1. phenomenalajs

    Great comment from Tunsil. That does look like a good deal for the Dolphins.

  2. crazylarry

    Why would anyone want to go there other than live and play with Jeff Ross and that organization he has ran into the ground?

    • amk3510

      Income tax free and Miami. Thats pretty attractive even if the team is god awful

    • dust44

      Because there’s only 31 other NFL franchises. So if u want to play u will play.

  3. jonesadoug

    Miami drafts right maybe they will build a team to compete with New England. That division needs to have a team step up and compete. Tired of the Patriots just using the regular season as a tune up for the playoffs. Use those 3 first round picks wisely. Please for the sake of the rest of the NFL. Were sick of the Patriots.

    • Sick of Losing

      you have to admit though when we look back on this dynasty in 10-20 years we’ll all be saying “damn, that was crazy”

      • Decius

        As a Giants fan, I find it hilarious that a Pats fan is making fun of a fan base for whining. You guys repeatedly break the rules and moan and complain when you are held accountable. I’m looking forward to when your coach retires and you guys suck for another 30 years.

        • burtgummer

          Repeatedly breaking the rules ?
          Other than spygate (12 years ago) what else have they done?
          If you do some research you’d see the giants have been busted more soooo

          • Decius

            And if that is true, we take our penalty and don’t whine about it like the Pats and their fans. Did you forget about Deflategate?

  4. crosseyedlemon

    Adopting a “tanking” strategy would be moronic for any front office. Your basically stating that your plan is to stockpile draft picks to build a much better team in the future. The problem is that if you had any skill at drafting talent you wouldn’t find yourself in a position where you would have to consider tanking in the first place.

    • I give no fox

      You obviously don’t understand the point of tanking then. It’s about accumulating assets. No one hits on all their picks. The point of tanking is to get as many lotto tickets as possible. That mitigates the risk of missing on a high pick. Also gives you more chances at premium talent on cheap contracts which will allow you to overpay for any free agent you want. See Los Angeles rams and Philadelphia Eagles for most recent examples of QBs on rookie scale deals to get to the big game.

      • I give no fox

        Also, look at the talent Cleveland was able to get because of tanking trades they made. It’s a rough strategy for fans and the league, but it could pay dividends for the team for years to come.

        • earmbrister

          Tanking only works if you have good management (which you probably don’t if you’re in that predicament). Look at how long the Browns have been awful. They’ve drafted near the top of the draft each and every year and it’s taken them 16 years to become somewhat relevant again.

          • kevinrallen0

            The concept is not just drafting at the top of the draft, it’s having multiple picks at the top of the draft. Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

          • crosseyedlemon

            Tanking only results in creating more opportunities to embarrass yourself with addition wasted picks.

          • I give no fox

            The browns ineptitude spanned multiple regimes. The last regime is where they embraced a different way of thinking and started acquiring assets in unique ways. They laid the foundation for Dorsey to step in and make the moves he did. That’s usually how tanking works, see sixers Hinkie/colangelo. The dolphins haven’t been relevant since Marino retired. They have been spinning tires in mediocrity. It’s going to be a brutal season or two, but the dolphins will be better off in the long run. They finally have a front office that has a long term vision.

    • There are generational talents who come along like Cam Newton, Matthew Stafford, Saquon Barkley and Andrew Luck who are available to teams who pick at the top of the draft. If one looks at the average careers of top five draft picks vs picks 16 to 32, the benefits of the tank will quickly become apparent.

      That said, Brady was a sixth round pick. Dak Prescott was a fourth round pick. The downside of tanking for a generational QB (say Andrew Luck or RGIII, which was more a trade up) is you probably don’t have a good enough team around him to keep him upright and playing for more than three or four years.

  5. letmeclearmythroat74

    At least my team won’t be the worst anymore. Signed Bengals Fan

  6. JJB0811

    How does a beat writer know what position they’ll be drafting in 6 months? I don’t buy that comment. Maybe they do draft a QB; in the 5th round.

  7. fungie22

    Speaking as a Cowboys fan you can not deny what the Patriots have achieved. With interchangeable players and marquee names expect Brady and Belechik.

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