While the Miami Dolphins did not pull off a blockbuster trade to get holdout defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, obviously GM Chris Grier was working the conversation towards another huge trade. And, that came about Saturday afternoon as Miami dealt starting left tackle Laremy Tunsil and arguably their best deep threat receiver, Kenny Stills in a move that will bring back a bounty of premium draft picks from the Texans.
Blockbuster: The #Dolphins are trading franchise LT Laremy Tunsil and WR Kenny Stills to the #Texans in exchange for a huge package of picks, including a first-rounder, sources tell me, @MikeGarafolo, and @TomPelissero. The moves are contingent on players passing physicals.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 31, 2019
The move clearly indicates that the Dolphins are in full rebuild mode, no matter the consequence and number of losses for this season.
Miami has been rid themselves of veteran high-priced players systematically, since Greer officially became the GM earlier this year and hired first-year coach Brian Flores. That includes trading QB Ryan Tannehill and his huge salary to the Titans. They also dealt high priced DE Robert Quinn to the Cowboys in March, also.
As for the Saturday deal, Tunsil is a former number 1 pick in 2016 and is entering the final year of his rookie deal He began as a guard in his rookie year, but moved to left tackle in 2017. He has started 44 games in his career and a year ago allowed only one sack.
Tunsil is currently a bargain at that coveted left tackle position at just $2.1 million for the upcoming season. And, the Dolphins had picked up his fifth year option of $9.7 million, which is still significantly below the high-end of left tackles in the game.
For example, the Buccaneers re-upped with free-agent-to-be tackle Donovan Smith in March on a massive deal that will pay him over $13 million per season moving forward.
Grier and Flores, obviously with the blessing of older Stephen Ross did not feel Tunsil was going to be worthy of a massive long-term contract.
As for Stills, we have written in recent days that it appeared his trading was his much motivated by his criticism of owner Stephen Ross and Ross holding a presidential re-election fundraiser for Donald Trump that escalated his ouster.
Stills was slated to enter his fifth season in Miami after being acquired from the Saints in 2015.
And, although his numbers were modest a year ago, 37 receptions, 553 yards and six touchdowns, he’s been arguably Miami’s most consistent downfield threat over those four seasons. Stills has averaged 16 yards per catch and has scored 24 touchdowns in that time.
Miami had appeared to be the frontrunner to acquire Jadeveon Clowney, who’s been holding out not signing his franchise tender with the Texans. Rappaport reported earlier in the week that Clowney had met personally with Flores recently about coming and signing a long-term deal in Miami.
However, that changed quickly over the last 48 hours and Clowney ended up being dealt Saturday morning to the Seattle Seahawks instead.
Houston acquired a third round pick and two defensive players from Seattle before making this deal with the Dolphins later in the day.
Official terms of now completed trade:
T Laremy Tunsil
WR Kenny Stills
2020 4th round pick
2021 6th round pick
2020 1st round pick
2021 1st round pick
2021 2nd round pick
T Julien Davenport
CB Johnson Bademosi
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 31, 2019
Davenport was fourth round pick of the Texans in 2017 and started all 16 games a year ago for Houston. Bademosi is a journeyman DB, who’s played for four teams in seven seasons. He was active for all 16 games last year but was primarily a reserve DB/special teams player.
Pass interference overrule in Jets win over Dolphins shows flaws
The inconsistent application and rulings of the new NFL pass interference replay policy was, again, on full display Sunday afternoon at The Meadowlands. And when the league’s officiating command center gave the Jets a first down on a pass interference call that wasn’t even made by their game officials, it helped New York kick the winning field goal to beat the Dolphins 22 – 21.
And, understandably, Dolphins coach Brian Flores was none too happy with the whole thing.
Although Flores refused to elaborate about why he went running after and arguing with the officials before his post-game handshake with Jets coach (and former Dolphins boss) Adam Gase, it was clear he was none too pleased with the ending to the game.
From last nite…The afternoon for Brian Flores and Adam Gase: Emotions decided by an unseen strangerhttps://t.co/XkUmph2hWK
— Armando Salguero (@ArmandoSalguero) December 9, 2019
To reset the scene, the Jets were driving trying to retake the lead trailing 21 – 19. This was after Dolphins kicker Jason Sanders had made his seventh field goal from 37 yrards for Miami to hold a two-point advantage.
Then on a 3rd and 18 play, Sam Darnold’s incompletion to Vyncint Smith may or may not have been enough contact to throw a flag. The on-field officials let it go.
But, that’s when the NFL supervisor of officials Al Riveron, his assistants and the command center initiated a replay review, as it was under two minutes remaining in the game.
Eventually Riveron overruled the on-field refs, and he gave the Jets the pass interference call, a first down at the Miami 38, and it eventually led to Sam Ficken making the game winning field goal from 44 yards out with no time left.
Now, it was not the first time, even recently, that the NFL has done this in the final two minutes with the game on the line. In the Buccaneers win over the Arizona Cardinals last month, Riveron and the command center overruled the on-field officials having not thrown a flag. That’s when Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans was clearly interfere with in the end zone, as Tampa Bay was looking for the go-ahead touchdown.
The Buccaneers got a first and goal at the one, scored and won the game 30 – 27.
Further adding to the confusion and controversy is that the NFL has been so reluctant to overturn flags for pass interference, one way or the other, throughout this first year of using instant replay for pass interference.
However the command center in New York has now demonstrated, not just with the Evans situation but even another case in the Dolphins-Browns game a couple of weeks ago, that they will use replay to overrule their on-field officials and make a penalty call in the final two minutes of a half or game.
Our Jason Cole wrote that this aspect of the review mechanism is troubling and potentially only going to get worse. This is because the league is interjecting themselves rather than backing their guys on the field who didn’t throw a flag unless it is blatantly obvious.
Back to Sunday, Miami had numerous chances, especially early, to get touchdowns while moving inside the Jets 10 yard line. However, three times, Sanders kicked a field goal of 28 yards or less giving Miami only nine points at the half.
The Dolphins had plenty of struggles in losing to Gase/their AFC East rival, and the replay decisions out New York aren’t going to make anyone feel any better about it.
“Mountaineer Shot” earns Dolphins K Sanders AFC honors
One of the great trick plays, not just of this NFL season but in recent pro football memory, has earned the Dolphins kicker who caught a touchdown pass Sunday AFC weekly honors.
The league announced Wednesday that kicker Jason Sanders, who became the first place-kicker to catch a touchdown pass in 42 years, is the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week:
Special Teams Players of the Week (Week 13):
— NFL (@NFL) December 4, 2019
Sanders also made his only field-goal attempt, as well as two extra points, earned the weekly honor for Miami’s 37 – 31 upset of the Eagles.
However, it is the play that is known as “Mountaineer Shot” that Sanders will forever be remembered for not just in Dolphin history, but NFL.
We wrote about the play on Monday, as head coach Brian Flores and special teams coordinator Danny Crossman implemented the direct snap to punter Matt Haack, while players were spread wide on either side of the formation.
Haack then, took the snap, rolled left and when the Eagles rushed at him, he flipped the ball to Sanders for the touchdown. The play is named for the center, Kilgore, because he played at Appalachian State, whose nickname is the Mountaineers. And, it’s something that Dolphins had been practicing regularly on and off for the past two months.
Furher, as for the historical aspects of the play, Sanders became the first kicker to catch a touchdown pass in an NFL game since Baltimore’s Jim Turner did it in a game in 1977.
It is also the first time since the AFL – NFL merger in 1970 that a punter has completed a touchdown pass to a kicker and the play will live on for years and years to come.
It is the second time that Sanders has won the AFC special teams player of the week award this season. He also got the honor for his two clultch 48 yard field goals in the fourth quarter of the Dolphins 16-12 upset of the Indianapolis Colts in November.