The Dolphins soap opera with quarterback Ryan Tannehill that has gone on for the past three seasons came to an end on Friday. However not with an outright release, but instead with a creative trade with the Tennessee Titans.
So it’s the Joe Flacco trade, with a touch of the Case Keenum trade mixed in. https://t.co/4i1SWDPwOy
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 15, 2019
Obviously, Miami GM Chris Grier and Tennessee GM John Robinson had been in discussion for Tannehill, and a creative way in which Miami could get much-needed salary cap relief, while Tennessee got a quality backup for their star-starter Marcus Mariota.
So, as part of this deal the Dolphins are paying a large portion of Tannehill’s new contract signing bonus at $5 million dollars of actual money. And, while that will not give great salary-cap relief to the Fins for this season (as Tannehill’s dead money is $18 million) it will help them for 2020 on the cap:
Dolphins picked up $5 million of $7 million guarantee Titans give Tannehill. That was a way to get a better draft pick out of Titans in 2020.
Team saves $8 million in 2019 cap space. There's $18 million in dead money. Team saves $25 million in 2020 cap. No dead money.
— Armando Salguero (@ArmandoSalguero) March 15, 2019
The incentive for doing this deal was when Tennessee apparently agreed to give Miami a better draft pick in the 2020 draft. That will now be a 4th rounder next year and the teams swapped draft picks for the upcoming 2019 draft. Tennessee now has Miami’s six rounder and the Dolphins the Titans 7th rounder.
This trade is out of the same creative mold of what the Browns did two years ago when they accepted Brock Osweiler and his $70 million contract that they could absorb under the cap from the Texans in exchange for Houston giving them a second pick.
Tennessee wanted to make this trade, as insurance against Mariota being injured as he has been throughout his career. That included him being out critical games down the stretch of this season, when Tennessee had to turn to back up Blaine Gabbert.
Tannehill leaves the Dolphins after two recent injury-plagued seasons. After tearing his ACL at the end of 2016, Tannehill elected not to have surgery. Instead, he went the route of physical therapy and strengthening the knee, but it betrayed him, when he was injured in training camp of 2017 during a practice.
Then, Tannehill did have the surgery and missed the entire 2017 season. He returned to start 2018 helping the Dolphins win their first three games before suffering a shoulder injury in an October game with the Bengals that sidelined him for another five games.
Miami eventually lost their final three games of the season to finish at 7 -9 and missed the playoffs for the second straight year. That led Dolphins owner Stephen Ross to fire coach Adam Gase, and the handwriting was on the wall that Tannehill at both a high price in actual money and salary cap space would be gone one way or the other.
The larger question is what do the Dolphins do now in trying to find a veteran through free agency or another possible trade? And, now they look towards the distinct possibility of drafting a quarterback in the first two rounds of the upcoming NFL Draft.
Dolphins coach Flores already dealing with lots of 2020 changes
For almost every NFL team not named the 49ers and the Chiefs, the draft evaluation process is now well underway, and most all teams are represented now in Mobile, Alabama for this weekend’s Senior Bowl. That includes, the Dolphins head coach Brian Flores and his staff (some of them brand new), who are taking it all in.
And on Monday night, Flores met with the Dolphins assembled media and beat writers about the changes that have already taken place within his coaching staff and how it will shape this offseason.
First, Flores took the drastic action of firing first-year offensive coordinator, Chad O’Shea, whom he had brought with him from the Patriots this past season. Part of that decision was based on Miami’s poor play offensively, but a bigger part is the person that Flores could bring in to run his offense.
That’s former Cowboys and bills head coach and longtime NFL offensive coordinator, Chan Gailey.
As we wrote when these moves were made earlier this month, Gailey has a long-standing relationship with veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Gailey was his head coach in Buffalo and also his offensive coordinator with the Jets, photo above,. It also further signals the Fitzpatrick apparently will be heavily involved in the 2020 offensive plans.
Speaking to the media and with the quotes being relayed via Joe Schad of the Palm Beach Post, Flores emphasized that Gailey’s in-game adjustments and his ability to teach is what appealed to hiring him,
“He does a really good job of adjustments in-game,” Flores said. “If you’re playing cover one, he’s got cover-one beaters, if you’re playing zone, he’s got zone-beaters. If you’re diamond front he’s got his diamond runs. He’s a good coach that way. I think he’s seen a lot of football.”
“I know he’s a great teacher,” Flores said. “Just in my conversations with several players and coaches that have spent time with him, and that’s obviously very important. The first thing I should have said is that.”
Flores also is dealing with having lost defensive coordinator, Patrick Graham, whom he allowed to take the same job with the New York Giants. Instead of going outside for his replacement hire, Flores instead promoted from in-house with defensive backs coach Josh Boyer getting the promotion and much more responsibility.
As for Boyer, Flores said Monday night from Mobile,
“He and I see things through the same lenses,” Flores said. “A lot of ways. He coached corners and I coached safeties and we spent a lot of time together. Defensive philosophies and fundamentals and techniques, the things we teach. We’re very much on the same page.”
Defense is obviously Flores’ specialty and Boyer is following his same path from when they were with the Pats. This, as Flores ascended from DB coach to defensive coordinator two seasons ago before getting the Dolphins job.
Miami will obviously have to remake their roster with numerous premium draft picks they acquired for this year and next year, plus, significant money under the salary cap for free agents.
And, all of that evaluation, including with Senior prospects practicing and playing this weekend, is now underway.
’85 Dolphins were part of dubious AFC playoff history
The Tennessee Titans are looking to make NFL playoff history and join four other teams as the only ones to ever win three straight road games and make a Super Bowl. That’s when they take on the Chiefs Sunday afternoon in Kansas City.
And, longtime Dolphins fans will remember that they were on the wrong end of one of those teams who pulled it off for the first time in NFL playoff history 34 years ago.
That’s when a Raymond Berry coached New England Patriots team behind Tony Eason at quarterback and an opportunistic defense stunned the seemingly invincible passing attack of second-year quarterback Dan Marino and Don Shula’s Dolphins in a shocking 31 – 14 upset at the Orange Bowl.
To set the scene, New England had already upset the New York Jets at the Meadowlands in the AFC Wildcard game and then, gone out to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and defeated the Raiders, who were the number one in AFC seed, 27 – 20.
The Dolphins, who were the AFC Champs the previous year behind Marino’s record-setting passing season of 1984, had struggled just to make the Championship Game a year later.
That’s because the Cleveland Browns actually led Miami the previous week 21 – 3 in the third quarter before Marino and the offense kicked it into gear for 21 unanswered points and a comeback 24 – 21 win.
However, on this day, they made simply too many mistakes and New England made them pay, including grinding the clock with over 40 minutes of possession to shorten the game.
Patriots ran for over 250 yards on the withering Dolphins defense and Miami had six turnovers in all including two critical Marino interceptions in the defeat.
New England surprisingly led 17 – 7 at the half, when Miami’s rookie kick returner and former Gator Lorenzo Hampton fumbled, while being tackled. A few plays later New England scored on a 4th and goal touchdown pass from Eason to Robert Weathers with a stunned Orange Bowl looking at a scoreboard that read 24 – 7, Pats.
Marino led the Dolphins down the field and looked like he was going to get them quickly in the end zone and right back in the game. However, he threw a critical bad pass that was picked off by Fred Marion at the New England goal line to keep the Dolphins off the board.
New England worked another four minutes off the clock before missing a few goal, but most of the damage had been done with most of the third period was erased with the Dolphins down by 17.
The Patriots Mosi Tatupu iced the game with a 1 yard touchdown midway through the final period and New England was on its way to a Super Bowl matchup with the Chicago Bears.
As you probably know by now, the ’85 Bears with their devastating “46 Defense,” Hall of Famer Walter Payton and brash quarterback Jim McMahon destroyed New England in the Super Bowl two weeks later.
Still, 1985 version the Patriots will always be remembered as a team that was able to pull off three straight wins away from home, including the shocker that ended Miami’s bid to capture the World Championship.
If you are wondering, the Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants, and Green Bay Packers have also all since done this “road trifecta” in the NFL Playoffs. However, in all three of their cases, they finished what the Patriots could not, by also winning the Super Bowl.
The most recent was the Packers and their 2011 postseason run that saw them defeat the Steelers to win the title.
So, on Sunday, it’s former Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill, RB Derrick Henry and the Tennessee defense’s turn to try to match what four others have done before them.
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