- Dolphins head coach Brian Flores says Ryan Fitzpatrick will remain the team’s starting quarterback for Week 3. Fitzpatrick hasn’t been able to get much done, but given Miami’s major holes on both sides of the ball, it’s not likely that Josh Rosen could do much better.
- The Dolphins may or may not be tanking, but they claim the tank won’t continue into 2020.
The Dolphins may be tanking, but they won’t be taking all the way through 2020. In Tuesday morning’s press conference to formally announce the trade of Minkah Fitzpatrick to the Steelers, GM Chris Grier said the ‘Fins are ready to put some resources towards free agency in March.
“We’ll be very aggressive,” Grier said. “We’re not going to sit on a bunch of money.”
A bunch of money is exactly what the Dolphins have after moving Fitzpatrick, trading Laremy Tunsil, and shedding Kiko Alonso. They also have tons of draft capital, which gives them the ability to find their next franchise quarterback and fill other glaring holes on the roster. Or, as Grier put it:
“We can do anything we want.”
It’s fair to be skeptical of the Dolphins, especially in light of their dreadful start that has players looking for life rafts out of Miami, but the Dolphins could theoretically take a page from the 76ers and use their stacks of cash and picks to turn the franchise around.
The Minkah Fitzpatrick saga has come to an end. ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweets that the Dolphins have traded the cornerback to the Steelers. Miami will receive a 2020 first-rounder in return. ESPN’s Cameron Wolfe adds (via Twitter) that the teams will also be swapping late-round picks.
Here’s the full breakdown of the trade: The Dolphins will receive a 2020 first-round pick, a 2020 fifth-round pick, and a 2021 sixth-round pick. The Steelers, meanwhile, get Fitzpatrick, a 2020 fourth-round choice, and a 2021 sixth-round selection.
We learned yesterday that league-wide interest in the 2018 first-rounder was “real and serious,” with roughly 20 teams reaching out to Miami. Earlier tonight, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported (via Twitter) that a trade was imminent, and he listed the Steelers (along with the Redskins, Cowboys, Chiefs, Eagles, and Seahawks) as potential suitors. While the Dolphins weren’t necessarily shopping the cornerback, they were receptive to offers and asking for a first-rounder “and something else.”
Fitzpatrick is an undeniably gifted defensive back who has been less than thrilled with the multiple roles he has been asked to fill in Miami’s defense to date. His ability to play as both a slot corner and a roaming safety made him a desirable asset. Through two games this season, the 22-year-old has compiled 12 tackles and one forced fumble.
The Dolphins offseason (and preseason, and regular season…) teardown is essentially complete. As ESPN’s Field Yates tweets, Miami has three first-rounders (their own, Steelers, Texans) and two second-rounders (their own, Saints) in the 2020 draft, and they also have the Texans 2021 first- and second-round picks (as well as their own).
While yesterday’s report indicated that a Fitzpatrick trade would ultimately represent the end of the team’s teardown and draft-pick accumulation, it sounds like the Dolphins aren’t necessarily eyeing a return to relevance in 2020. Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com wrote earlier today that there’s “growing suspicion” that the Dolphins may be eyeing a two-year rebuild. The team may even pass on a quarterback during the 2020 draft with the hope that they’ll for Clemson signal-caller Trevor Lawrence in 2021.
While the Steelers were in the market for a cornerback, the trade is a considerable risk for a team that just lost Ben Roethlisberger for an entire season. Considering the draft capital they gave up to acquire Fitzpatrick, Pittsburgh’s front office has made it clear that they’re not giving up on the 2019 campaign. On the flip side, since the front-office is apparently high on the former 11th-overall pick, giving up a potential top-1o selection may still be a net positive, regardless of the Steelers’ 2019 record.
We’ve got another batch of workout updates from the past few days, all via veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer on Twitter (unless otherwise noted):
- LB Curtis Akins, S Corrion Ballard, S Briean Boddy-Calhoun, DT Carl Davis, DT Deon Simon, RB David Williams (via Wilson)
New Orleans Saints
San Francisco 49ers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Dolphins may trade second-year DB Minkah Fitzpatrick before next week, and one report this morning suggested that a Fitzpatrick trade, if completed, would represent the end of Miami’s extensive teardown.
But not so fast. Per Jay Glazer of FOX Sports, the Dolphins have engaged rival clubs in trade talks concerning running back Kenyan Drake (Twitter link). If the team were to deal Drake, it would make a little more sense than the recent trade of Laremy Tunsil and the potential trade of Fitzpatrick. After all, Drake is eligible for free agency in 2020, and quality running backs are easier to find than high-quality left tackles.
But while Drake has not been heavily-utilized in his three-plus years in Miami, he has shown plenty of promise. He has averaged 4.7 yards-per-carry in his young career, and he has also been a contributor in the passing game. Although he would not likely yield a major return in a trade, it’s easy to see why other teams would be sniffing around the Dolphins’ carcass in the hopes of finding worthwhile talent.
However, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald hears from a team source that the Dolphins have had zero conversations about a Drake trade, and he’s also heard that Drake has not asked to be dealt (Twitter links). Though this is purely speculation, it could be that rival clubs have placed calls just to see if Drake is available, and the Dolphins have rebuffed those overtures.
After getting just four carries in the team’s Week 1 loss to Baltimore, Drake reportedly had a great week of practice and is primed for a larger workload going forward.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Earlier this week, the Dolphins gave second-year DB Minkah Fitzpatrick permission to seek a trade, and Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports says that roughly 20 teams have reached out to Miami brass and/or Fitzpatrick’s agent, Joel Segal, to inquire. Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network (video link) confirms that league-wide interest in the 2018 first-rounder is “real and serious,” and both reporters hear that a deal could be completed prior to Week 3.
Adam Schefter of ESPN.com writes that the Dolphins are said to be seeking a first-round pick “and something else” in return for Fitzpatrick, and given the number of inquiries they’re getting, that may not be as high of an ask as was originally thought. Miami is still not actively shopping the Alabama product, but the Fins seem to be doing just fine in getting potential suitors to come to them. However, Schefter’s sources suggest that Miami will have to lower its asking price to consummate a trade.
Fitzpatrick is an undeniably gifted defensive back who has been less than thrilled with the multiple roles he has been asked to fill in Miami’s defense to date, though his versatility is one of his best assets. Other than the Cowboys, it’s unclear what teams have talked to the Dolphins about a trade, but presumably teams with needs at safety and cornerback have made inquiries.
If the Dolphins do trade Fitzpatrick, La Canfora says it would represent the end of the team’s teardown and draft-pick accumulation. Miami would be armed with even more draft capital to start its rebuild, though after trading Laremy Tunsil and (perhaps) Fitzpatrick, the Dolphins will need to use some of that capital to reload at LT and in the defensive backfield.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
As we move closer to Week 2 Sunday, plenty of storylines have surfaced — much of them out of the AFC East. Antonio Brown is on track to make his Patriots debut, Minkah Fitzpatrick may or may not be on the trade block, and a mono-stricken Sam Darnold will miss the Jets’ Monday-nighter against the Browns. But let’s shift to a few items on the league’s periphery.
- The NFL recently discussed some changes to its ownership policy. With franchise values skyrocketing, the league’s rule requires prospective owners to put up at least 30% of the price. This has produced limited buyers, at least it did with during the Panthers sale. (Current franchise valuations would force bidders to put up at least $600MM.) Seeking input from a quartet of firms involved in franchise sales, NFL owners discussed several matters on the topic of acquiring teams but made only one change recently. Owners of non-NFL teams in NFL markets — such as Steve Ballmer, Mark Cuban, etc. — can now make bids to acquire NFL franchises, Scott Soshnick of Bloomburg.com reports.
- Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm regularly appears in 2020 mock drafts as a first-round pic, but various NFL personnel are now not so sure he will be part of that class. Executives and scouts polled by Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller expect Fromm to return to school for what would be his senior season in 2020. Operating a run-first offense, Fromm has displayed improved accuracy since being handed the Bulldogs’ reins as a true freshman. However, he’s viewed as perhaps a cut below the likes of Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert on the 2020 prospect spectrum.
- Were Fromm to postpone his NFL entrance, he would likely be joining one of the more hyped quarterbacks in modern draft history. Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence has begun to generate more buzz than Tagovailoa or Herbert, leaving NFL brass to question the Dolphins’ strategy of using this season to tank for a possible franchise quarterback. “Next year, though? Oh, yeah. Let me get [Ohio State’s] Justin Fields or Trevor Lawrence, and our fans won’t care how many games we lose,” an NFL GM told Miller.
- Projected first-round tackle Walker Little, a junior at Stanford, underwent knee surgery and will miss the rest of the season, per Miller. The 6-foot-7 blocker will then have to determine whether or not to enter the NFL off a lost season or return to school to rebuild his stock.
- Despite the Dolphins‘ run of moves to jettison higher-profile talent, they are not projected to possess the most cap space in 2020. As of now, that’s the Colts, who are in line to hold $138MM, Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap tweets. Miami sits second at $113MM, with no other teams over $100MM. These figures are imprecise with the 2020 cap not yet set, but the Colts’ caution this year in free agency — despite holding more than $100MM in space — stands to again equip the franchise with plenty to spend come March.
- Free agent wide receiver Cayleb Jones is serving a six-game suspension, according to veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer (on Twitter). The younger brother of Zay Jones, Cayleb Jones was charged with domestic assault as a member of the Vikings during the summer of 2018. He did not make Minnesota’s 53-man roster.
The Dolphins have reportedly been eyeing some reinforcement on their offensive line, and it looks like they’ve landed on a veteran. Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald reports (via Twitter) that Miami has signed offensive lineman Bryan Witzmann.
The 29-year-old has established himself as a versatile, starting-quality lineman over the past few years. He started a career-high 13 games for the Chiefs back in 2017, and he started seven of his 10 appearances with the Bears last season. Witzmann signed with the Browns this past offseason, but he was cut by the organization following the preseason.
The Dolphins traded talented lineman Laremy Tunsil prior to the season, and they recently placed Julie’n Davenport on the injured reserve. The organization was reportedly eyeing some extra offensive line help, and we heard earlier today that the team was working out former Dolphins lineman Sam Young. As Beasley notes, Witzmann is the fifth lineman the team has added since the ended of the preseason.
Considering Witzmann’s ability to play both offensive tackle and offensive guard, he should be able to carve out a role on a line that doesn’t have many definitive starters. Michael Deiter, Jesse Davis, and captain Daniel Kilgore seem like locks to maintain their gigs, but Witzmann could beat out any of Chris Reed, Shaq Calhoun, J’Marcus Webb, DannyIsidora, Isaiah Prince, or Evan Boehm for snaps.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Michael Lombardi of The Athletic adds (via Twitter) that the organization doesn’t “bring players as a guest,” an indication that Brown will be active. Meanwhile, Jeff Howe of the Athletic notes (on Twitter) that AB had a “strong” first week of practice with the team, and it’d be surprising if he didn’t suit up for tomorrow’s contest against the Dolphins.
- Following the trade request from Dolphins cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick, Phil Perry of NBC Sports Boston writes that the Patriots should go after the former first-rounder. Perry notes that Fitzpatrick offers many of the skills that the Patriots seek from defensive backs, and he points to recent trades with the Jets and Bills as reasons why New England wouldn’t be afraid of trading within the division.
- Speaking of trade requests, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald tweets that the Dolphins are aware of “another specific veteran player’s unhappiness and his preference to go elsewhere.” However, that veteran player has been “disinclined to discuss this publicly.” Head coach Brian Flores said he wasn’t aware of any trade requests besides Fitzpatrick’s.
The 2010 sixth-round pick has managed to put together a nine-year career, including stints with the Cowboys, Bills, Jaguars, and Dolphins. He played the past three seasons with Miami, including a 2018 campaign where he appeared in 12 games (with one start). Young signed with the 49ers earlier this offseason, but he was let go during final roster cuts in August.
After moving on from talented lineman Laremy Tunsil, the Dolphins have been struggling to find a logical offensive line configuration. The Miami Herald’s Adam Beasley tweeted earlier this week that the coaching staff was considering changes to the unit, and that apparently meant they’d also be searching for outside help.
Michael Deiter and Jesse Davis seem to have a secure hold on their starting gigs, as does captain Daniel Kilgore. However, any of Chris Reed, Shaq Calhoun, J’Marcus Webb, Danny Isidora, Isaiah Prince, or Evan Boehm could find themselves on the hot seat.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.