Matt Moore deflects questions on Tannehill's possible replacements
Even if quarterback Ryan Tannehill can find a knee specialist who will persuade him and the Miami Dolphins to again skip surgery on his re-injured left knee -- something not likely -- the team is still looking for a starting-caliber quarterback.
The reason is not so much a commentary on the team’s confidence in Matt Moore. The Dolphins believe they can win games with Moore and that was proven in 2016 when Moore won two of his three regular-season starts to help Miami make the playoffs.
The concern the Dolphins have is Moore’s ability to stay healthy for 16 games.
I’m told there are doubts about that.
And, in my opinion, rightly so.
The fact is Moore last year was knocked out of games not once but twice. It happened in the preseason and then it happened against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs.
So in five games he played a lot of snaps, Moore got knocked out of the game in two of those.
That doesn’t mean Moore is incapable of escaping rush or getting rid of the football fast enough to protect himself. It does, however, raise eyebrows. And the Dolphins would be foolish to go into a season in which Tannehill may not be available at any point expecting Moore to play every single snap.
There’s more to this than Moore, however.
The Dolphins aren’t confident enough in either Brandon Doughty or David Fales, the other two quarterbacks on the roster, to hand either the keys to the offense as the starter should Moore go down.
Last year when Tannehill was injured, the Dolphins signed veteran T.J. Yates and he served as the backup despite having been with the team only a few days. He was immediately ahead of Doughty, who was a rookie on the practice squad.
Both Doughty and Fales are project quarterbacks and no one within the Dolphins organization is ready to trust inexperienced players with saving a season if the team finds itself with neither Tannehill nor Moore.
So the team needs to find someone to, at minimum, back up Moore and have enough experience and ability to win a game if called upon.
Obviously, the Dolphins are aiming higher than that. The team’s flirtation with Jay Cutler, who started in Denver and Chicago, is not only meant as an insurance policy to Moore but perhaps even an upgrade.
Other quarterbacks on the team’s free agent list of possibilities are more backup types.
There is also an unexplored possibility for a trade. Maybe Cleveland’s Brock Osweiler or Minnesota’s Teddy Bridgewater or someone else might become available on the trade market.
Both Osweiler, with a terrible contract situation, and Bridgewater, with an uncertain timetable for return from a dislocated knee, pose questions as to whether they can offer solutions.
But as coach Adam Gase said Saturday, “all options are on the table.”
This, however, is not an option: The Dolphins must add another quarterback capable of playing significant downs in 2017.
Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero