The Dolphins continued their purge of high-priced veterans with training camp cuts looming later this week, when they released safety T.J. McDonald Sunday night.
And coach Brian Flores is making it clear privately and now publicly, that there are dual motives with the moves they are making. One, it’s an attempt to get younger while trying to be better. And two, what works best financially and under the cap for the team?
Flores talked to the Miami media prior to practice Monday morning and spoke for the first time since the team released the veteran McDonald ,who came to them 3 years ago:
Dolphins Live: Coach Flores meets with the media. https://t.co/WCZQWbTFRA
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) August 26, 2019
McDonald’s started 14 games a year ago, but again does not fit into the new coaching staff’s long-term plan. GM Chris Grier obviously signed off on this move, which will cause the Dolphins to take a 4 26 million cap hit in dead money.
There is also speculation that Miami is trying to rework the contract and cap number for veteran defensive back Reshad Jones who is scheduled to make $13 million with a dead cap hit of $17 million if released. If they cannot work that out, Jones will could be released, but there’s a slim chance that the Fins find a trade partner later this week comes, too. Also, Miami could choose to keep the veteran Jones for depth in the secondary.
As we wrote this weekend, veteran linebacker Kiko Alonso and wide receiver Kenny Stills may also be on the chopping block, as veterans that cost too much. So, Miami could to get rid of either by release or trade later this week.
Flores did speak favorably at Stills responding well and continuing to do the things needed after his off-field controversy and criticism of owner Stephen Ross holding a fundraising dinner for President Donald Trump and also the NFL’s partnership with music mogul, Jay-Z.
#Dolphins coach Brian Flores on how Kenny Stills has improved since his Jay-Z challenge: “I think he’s responded well. I think he’s practiced well. He’s a guy with mental toughness. He works hard, and the game is important to him.”
— Safid Deen 💯💯💯💯 (@Safid_Deen) August 26, 2019
Flores also told the media Monday that Grier has input into the decision of what to do at starting quarterback?
Veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick played deep into the third quarter of the final dress rehearsal tune up last Thursday night against the Jaguars. It is believed that he will be the opening day starter against the Baltimore Ravens with second-year quarterback Josh Rosen backing him up.
Obviously, Flores and offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea want Rosen to challenge Fitzpatrick and he will get one more chance to play at least a couple of series probably in Thursday night’s preseason finale with the Saints Thursday.
Flores said last week that just because Fitzpatick was starting the third preseason game didn’t automatically mean the decision was made. Now, we’ll see, if Rosen has a good or better game later this week, if that’s true.
Dolphins “limbo game” with QB Josh Rosen remains
The Dolphins continue to do their diligence on the possible drafting of a franchise type quarterback that they may be able to get their hands on in the upcoming in April. However, there remains a looming question with what to do with the former first-round pick QB that they acquired last April.
Josh Rosen remains, for now, part of the Dolphins plans, yet, even his biggest supporters have to concede ,that Rosen is likely “the odd man out” should Miami take one of the top quarterbacks in this year’s draft.
That’s because GM Chris Grier and coach Brian Flores are obviously committed to veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick. We know this because Fitzpatrick not only rallied the team for several wins down the stretch of the season, but that Miami has also gone and hired Fitzpatrick’s former offensive coordinator and head coach at two of his other stops, Chan Gailey for this season.
That’s not something that the Dolphins brass did lightly, and it foreshadows that Fitzpatrick will likely be the quarterback that they begin the regular season with, just as they did in 2019.
So, where exactly does that leave Rosen, who played very little last year, but has a salary cap friendly contract?
It likely means that he’s only “an insurance policy” that could be dropped at any point for very little salary cap ramifications.
We wrote near the end of last season that it did not make any sense that Miami wasn’t at least giving Rosen game action and some live reps in games last December, if only to see once and for all, if they could develop him into a quarterback for the future?
Obviously, the Dolphins spoke loudly with their actions, and by not even playing Rosen in any of the last seven games, they were indicating he’s expendable.
Dolphins beat writer for the Miami Herald Armando Salguero wrote Wednesday morning about Rosen situation, but shed very little light on what his actual future is. This is primarily because whether it’s Salguero, other media or anyone else not named Flores/Grier, they don’t know for sure what Rosen’s immediate, much less longer range, 2020 future is.
Sure, they could hang on to Rosen through the offseason and have him try to compete for playing time.
But, that seems to be a futile exercise if the Fins have already made up their mind that Fitzpatrick will start the year. And then, you’re drafting a rookie quarterback drafting a rookie quarterback, again to potentially be the future of the franchise.
Then again, Fitzpatrick is 37 years old and could break down physically along the way, well before the start of next season. So, keeping Rosen as that insurance policy along with the rookie Miami likely drafts, isn’t the worst idea.
However, for now, the 23 year old former UCLA star is in limbo.
And, for all we know, he could be cut to begin free agency coming up.
Certainly not giving Rosen a start in any of the last 11 games on an awful team is a clear indication that Grier and Flores didn’t believe in him. This after acquiring him and watching him all offseason, preseason and in the games that he did play.
We now await their next move with Rosen, and certainly, he does, too.
Stafford trade rumor reminder Dolphins better be ready to trade up
On Thursday morning a report surfaced that the Lions, who are currently slated to pick third in April’s NFL Draft, were actively looking to trade former Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Stafford. And, while that report has now been debunked, for teams like the Dolphins sitting in the fifth Spot, this is reminder of their reality of what could happen if someone jumps in front of them, in particular for a QB.
First, the report surfaced late Wednesday night from a local Detroit TV station that their sports reporter/anchor had learned that the Lions were looking for a trade partner for the 11-year veteran Stafford:
Sources: Lions in trade talks to deal Matthew Stafford https://t.co/1lH2yRxGZx
— Local 4 WDIV Detroit (@Local4News) February 13, 2020
That report was quickly squashed by lions GM Bob Quinn and numerous NFL media reporters and salary cap experts pointed out that Stafford’s cap hit would be a massive $32 million dollars, if he is traded or released this season.
So it’s not likely, no matter how bad the situation is with the Lions, the Stafford is going anywhere.
But, that doesn’t mean that the Redskins, who are picking second and the Giants were picking 4th after the Lions and obviously both before the Dolphins at five, aren’t going to also be in the market to listen to trade offers for their picks.
This is, because Washington seems to be committed, for now with a new head coach and Ron Rivera, to last year’s first round quarterback pick, Dwayne Haskins
And likewise, the Giants have obviously made a commitment to their number one pick up last year, Daniel Jones. This after 2 time Super Bowl winning veteran quarterback Eli Manning announced his retirement, recently.
So, both NFC East teams appear to be targets, if a team (including the Dolphins) would look to try to increase their draft position.
This is in particular if that team were interested in the second best quarterback available in the draft, which is likely Alabama Tua Tagovailoa.
As was reported earlier this week, Tagovailoa is on schedule to heal from a fractured hip suffered last November in Alabama’s game with Mississippi State. While Tua won workout at the NFL combine later this month, it’s believed that he would likely work out for teams Alabama facility later in March or April.
One final factor in favor of the Dolphins and GM Chris Grier: they have some trade capital, including extra first-round pick this year and next year, with which the potentially move up if they so desire.
It’s all part of the evaluation process and then, the drama of what the teams at the top of the first round will look to do later this Spring.
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