Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake confident in making plays this season
Let’s begin here: I’m going to present to you my idea. No one else’s. It’s not the Dolphins whispering a possibility to me so I can float that publicly to see how it plays. It’s not some league source saying this is a possibility.
This is just plain ol’ me thinking out loud.
The Dolphins would be wise to start working on a trade of DeVante Parker (and maybe something else) for Le’Veon Bell.
And now the folks who run the Dolphins and read my stuff every day (although they say they don’t) think I’ve lost my ever freakin’ mind. And their second thought is Mando is a dummy.
And my answer to them is you’re on a teetering ship, fellas. And if you’re not searching for a life preserver, there’s something amiss with your thinking, not mine.
So there’s that.
I don’t usually write these Dolphins-should-trade-for-player-name-here columns. Too simplistic. Low hanging fruit. So I leave it to others.
But this time this very complex and difficult work should be on the Dolphins radar because it might actually help save a season while it can still be saved.
The Dolphins are 3-1 right now. They are coming off a terrible defeat, and what I believe is the worst defeat in the Adam Gase era. But what you’re going to hear out of the coach and the team the next week leading to next Sunday’s game at Cincinnati is that it was only one game, and it’s time to recover, and it’s time to go to work and improve.
And I totally agree. It’s time to go to work and improve.
And part of that work should include trying to find a way to add a dynamic, three-down running back who happens to also be a great threat in the passing game. How about that as a way to improve?
Now, about that complex work:
This cannot be Mike Tannenbaum or Chris Grier calling the Steelers and saying, “Hey, we’d like to take Le’Veon Bell off your hands.”
Because, first off, they cannot afford him right now. Bell, put on the trade block only last week per national reports, is Pittsburgh’s franchise player. The franchise tag designation on him gives him a $14 million salary cap number.
But that number drops by some $855,500 every game. So that number is at $11,121,883 now.
The Dolphins cannot afford that now. But according to overthecap.com, they can afford it starting Oct. 23 when Bell’s cap charge will be in line with Miami’s cap space — currently $8,474,113, per the NFL Players Association.
The NFL trade deadline is Oct. 30 at 4 p.m.
So that works for the Dolphins, assuming no team has stepped up before then.
And now why it makes sense, perhaps even for both teams.
For the Steelers it makes sense because they’d be offered a wide receiver with talent who can help — at least a little bit — right away.
I get it, Parker is often injured and hasn’t lived up to expectations in Miami. But perhaps a change of scenery ... and a better quarterback ... and offensive system ... and coaches might help him finally gain traction.
The Steelers may like this idea because they get something for Bell immediately. And because Parker is under club control for next season at the fifth-year option rate, Pittsburgh is not getting a rental for a couple of months. If he works out, Parker can be on the Steelers in 2019 or even beyond.
(In case you haven’t heard, Pittsburgh wide receivers have been a little hard to handle this year so maybe they want someone like Parker who less abrasive in their receivers room.)
So what about the Dolphins?
I would tell them the same reasons they’d think this isn’t the thing to do makes it exactly the thing to do.
The Dolphins would probably say they worked hard to get their locker room culture just right in the offseason with guys who are all about football and are really hard workers. And adding a guy who has perhaps decided he’s going to sit out an entire season to point himself toward free agency in 2019 is not a fit.
To that I say, great teams don’t have perfect culture. But they do have great players.
And Miami’s culture just got its behind handed to it at New England. And the Dolphins managed only 172 total yards. And only one of Miami’s paltry 11 first downs came via the running game.
And Kenyan Drake has gotten off to a slow start this year, averaging 3.2 yards per carry. And the Dolphins are ranked 25th in the NFL in rushing yards per game and 22nd in yards per rush average.
Despite this, the Dolphins are 3-1.
Imagine what might happen if they had, you know, a legit running game?
With a superstar running back?
(Whining voice: But Mando, how would that make Drake feel? How would that make Frank Gore feel?)
How did they feel late Sunday afternoon?
Drake rushed three times for three yards.
How did that make you feel?
I recognize that adding a player late in the season is not optimal. You know what? The Eagles did it last year with Jay Ajayi. It worked out pretty well. The Patriots have been doing it for a decade. It’s worked out very well.
Smart front offices don’t stop working after the roster cut to 53.
Smart front offices on teams that have a 3-1 record and can still salvage a season, think about adding dynamic talent if they have the chance.
(Whining voice: But it’s only a rental.)
That quite possibly could be true. Bell could sign his tender, report to the Steelers just long enough so he could be traded, play the final two months for Miami and go to free agency next year.
I get that.
But perhaps Miami can have some sort of, you know, plan. And that might have included a conversation with Bell’s camp that would mean he might be open to re-signing with Miami next year.
But, again, what other 26-year-old superstar who is maybe the league’s best player at his position do the Dolphins have on their team?
And here’s the worst of all cases scenario pre-trade: Say, the Dolphins and Steelers can agree to a deal. And Bell agrees to show up late this month. And it saps all of Miami’s carry-over salary cap room from this year, much the same way the Jay Cutler signing did last year. And then Bell walks after the season?
Then the Dolphins got rid of a player (Parker) whose current arc is suggesting he’s not going to be here next year for a player who isn’t here next year. Nothing lost.
And in the meantime, the Dolphins got a great running back. And an outstanding threat in the passing game.
And they did it at a time the team is still hopeful it can still do damage and be relevant late in the season when playoff spots are being decided.
Meanwhile, this running back who has made his reputation making plays behind some questionable offensive lines, improves a Miami running game that is on life support right now.
(Whining voice: But, Mando, our carefully crafted culture ...)
Dear whining voice, that carefully crafted culture just authored a 38-7 loss in which no one really showed up to a very important game. So shut up.
Get to work, Miami Dolphins.