The Dolphins and Texans pulled off a blockbuster, franchise-altering, league-shaking trade Saturday.
And while it surely doomed the Dolphins’ chances in 2019, it might set them up for the next decade.
The top line:
Miami sent Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Stills to Houston for a number of high draft picks, including two first-rounders.
The compensation for the Dolphins: a first-round pick in 2020, a first-round pick in 2021 and a second-round pick in 2021, the Miami Herald has learned.
The Texans are also sending cornerback Johnson Bademosi and offensive lineman Julien Davenport to Miami as part of the deal. The Dolphins also sent a fourth-round pick to Houston to make the deal a bit more palatable to the Texans.
But league reaction still was overwhelming positive for the Dolphins. And critical for Bill O’Brien and the Texans, who are clearly all-in on 2019.
And it was a stunner, considering Tunsil-to-Houston appeared dead earlier in the day.
That’s because the Texans shipped Jadeveon Clowney to the Seahawks for a third-round pick and linebackers Barkevious Mingo and Jacob Martin. The Dolphins had hoped to have Clowney as part of the deal.
But Dolphins general manager Chris Grier kept at it, and a deal got done, pending physicals, as O’Brien got more desperate.
The Texans still badly needed offensive line help, and a league executive told the Miami Herald before the deal got done that Bill O’Brien and his staff “will be aggressive, I’m sure,” to land a top talent. The source was right.
The news will come as a shock to the Dolphins’ locker room in general and Xavien Howard in particular. Howard and Tunsil recently sat for a Miami Herald photo shoot, and after the Clowney-Seahawks deal was announced, Howard posted a picture from that shoot with the caption, “Shaq & Kobe.”
Now it’s just Kobe.
Last week, a well-placed source told the Miami Herald that “the backlash [in the Dolphins locker room] would be amazing,” if Tunsil were dealt. “Guys would legit revolt.”
But Grier and coach Brian Flores are obviously less concerned about the short-term blowback than they are building a roster juggernaut in the future. And with at least 11 draft picks in 2020, they are in position to do that.
Landing another first-rounder for Tunsil lets the Dolphins control the entire draft in April. They now have two firsts, two seconds and likely two thirds in 2020 plus two firsts and two seconds in 2021.
But it sets up what could be the worst season in team history.
What should not get lost in the shuffle: In Stills, the Dolphins just traded away a guy who scored 24 touchdowns in the last four years and was their most recent Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee.
Meanwhile, linebacker Kiko Alonso remains — for now — a member of the team despite cleaning out his locker before Saturday’s cuts. The Dolphins have until 4 p.m. Saturday to trade or release him or his $6.5 million base salary becomes guaranteed.
▪ Along with 10 linemen, the Dolphins kept two quarterbacks, six receivers, four tight ends and six running backs/fullbacks. They have four corners, three defensive ends, four defensive tackles, six linebackers and five safeties.
The Dolphins, over the past two days, released these players on offense: quarterback Jake Rudock; receivers Brice Butler, Isaiah Ford, T.J. Rahming, Trenton Irwin and Reece Horn; running back Kenneth Farrow; tight end Dwayne Allen (with an injury settlement); and offensive linemen Kyle Fuller, Jayrd-Jones Smith, Michael Dunn, Terry Adams and Aaron Monteiro.
The Dolphins released these players on defense: defensive ends Tank Carradine (a surprise), Tyrone Holmes and Dewayne Hendrix; defensive tackles Cory Thomas, Joey Mbu, Jamiyus Pittman and Durval Queriroz Neto; linebackers Terrance Smith, Tre’ Watson and Nick DeLuca; cornerbacks Tyler Patmon, Jalen Davis, Nik Needham, Davis Rivers, Cornell Armstrong and Torry McTyer; and safety Maurice Smith.
Undrafted rookie Wes Farnsworth also was released, with John Denney retaining Dolphins long snapper duties for a 15th season.
Also, defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche and cornerback Cordrea Tankersley were placed on the physically unable to perform list and must sit out the first six weeks (or five games) of the season. Both had knee surgery last season.