Armando Salguero

Last to starting QB party, Dolphins still expect to add multiple players at the position

Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill after Buffalo Bills game.

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill comments on his future at the Miami Dolphins after the Buffalo Bills defeat the Miami Dolphins at New Era Field, Orchard Park, NY on Sunday, December 30, 2018.
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Quarterback Ryan Tannehill comments on his future at the Miami Dolphins after the Buffalo Bills defeat the Miami Dolphins at New Era Field, Orchard Park, NY on Sunday, December 30, 2018.

The only NFL team currently without a starting quarterback for 2019? You guessed it, the Miami Dolphins.

This is not the position to be in, folks.

Yes, the Dolphins can claim to have a starter because Ryan Tannehill, who they have been trying unsuccessfully to trade, is still on the roster. That, of course, makes no sense in the long run because of his scheduled $26.6 million salary cap number.

That number shoots to the top of the Dolphins’ cap structure at 4 p.m. Wednesday when the NFL’s new league year begins. And, yes, if the Dolphins cannot trade Tannehill (LOL) they are expected to eventually cut the quarterback at some point rather than carry that huge cap number into the 2019 season.

And, yes, one supposes Miami will eventually find a replacement to start games for them in 2019.

But, honestly, this isn’t an envious spot to be in. This last-in-line position isn’t what this once-storied franchise used to be about -- finishing the season unhappy with the guy at the game’s most important position and being unable to remedy that situation three months after your season ended.

The Dolphins would tell you they have plenty of time and plenty of choices for resolving their quarterback situation.

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The Dolphins could say, “We can keep Ryan Tannehill.”

And they’ve not officially closed that door this offseason, with coach Brian Flores saying the evaluation process for Tannehill is ongoing and general manager Chris Grier saying, “We’re getting there, and once we make a decision organizational-wise, we’ll move forward.”

That was two weeks ago.

Meanwhile, the Broncos traded for Joe Flacco and might pick another quarterback in the draft.

The Redskins traded for Case Keenum and might pick another QB in the draft.

The Jaguars agreed to sign Nick Foles.

The Arizona Cardinals seem to be in position to draft Kyler Murray No. 1 overall. And even if they don’t, they have Josh Rosen, who they picked in the first round last year.

The Giants, needing an heir to Eli Manning, have the sixth overall pick in the draft and on Tuesday evening picked up Cleveland’s first round selection, No. 17 overall, in the Odell Beckham Jr. trade. So they have draft capital to pick the best or second-best quarterback in the draft..

And, again, the Giants still have Manning as their starter.

The Dolphins, meanwhile, are seemingly in limbo -- except for the fact they signed tight end Dwayne Allen over the weekend and agreed to sign backup cornerback Eric Rowe for one year early Wednesday morning.

Back to the QB issue: Depending on whose source you believe, the team either showed “very serious interest” in New Orleans backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater recently but was rebuffed by a South Florida kid who apparently preferred to stay as a backup in New Orleans for less money...

...Or the Dolphins showed some, but not huge interest in Bridgewater, as I was told.

(And I say this in all transparency, none of this Bridgewater episode feels right to me. Competitors don’t simply give up a chance at more money and a chance to start without there being something else amiss, so that casts doubt on the NFL Network reporting. But, teams also don’t go to agents with half-hearted interest for players they really want because that’s just lame and it can offend, so I’m questioning what I’m being told, too.)

Either way, Bridgewater was not signed with anyone as of noon Wednesday. And he didn’t need to wait until 4 p.m. Wednesday to make it official.

So this feels like people on both sides were posturing.

And maybe Teddy Bridgewater is still available to Miami before he actually signs. Maybe he still ends up in Miami.

Because maybe he’s still available to leave New Orleans in the same fashion Anthony Barr was still available to return to Minnesota after reportedly agreeing to a deal with the New York Jets.

Weird things can and do happen.

Absent that?

No bueno, ladies and gentlemen.

Because the Dolphins are about to go hunting for a bridge quarterback. And finding a good one might be a bridge too far.

The possibilities:

Tyrod Taylor, who I’ve reported Miami wants.

Sam Bradford.

Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Matt Cassel.

A return of Brock Osweiler.

“When you look at that available list of free agents it’s not very impressive at all,” former New York Giants front office man Marc Ross said on NFL Network Tuesday. “...They’ve all proven you cannot win with them.”

So barring a Bridgewater re-do or Tannehill return, the Dolphins are about to downgrade at quarterback. Because all those other QBs, including Taylor, would lose to Tannehill in a fair training camp competition.

(Maybe not Bradford, but he’d win the competition and then blow out his knee again walking to his car).

Which begs this question: What is Miami’s actual plan for finding a quarterback?

I don’t mean the today plan that includes getting a guy that will definitely fail and be gone in a year or two. I mean the actual, serious plan for finding a franchise quarterback.

A club source said Tuesday the Dolphins are likely to make multiple quarterback moves this offseason. One will be to have a veteran in place.

The other would be to draft a quarterback, if “the right one” is available.

And if “the right one” isn’t there this year? The search will continue next year. But the preference is to find that guy as soon as possible.

That’s raises multiple possibilities and puts something of a damper on the #tankfortua movement.

But what Miami would be looking at the next two months is adding a placeholder veteran and then maybe drafting Drew Lock from Missouri or Daniel Jones from Duke if we’re talking doing the work in the first round -- assuming Murray and Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins go before Miami picks.

I have no idea if the Dolphins like Lock or Jones but those two seem like the most logical, prominent draft candidates.

Adding either of those guys might make suffering the bridge-too-far quarterback a temporary affliction. At worst, it would pull the Dolphins out of the last-in-line for a quarterback situation they currently find themselves in.

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Armando Salguero has covered the Miami Dolphins and the NFL since 1990, so longer than many players on the current roster have been alive and since many coaches on the team were in middle school. He was a 2016 APSE Top 3 columnist nationwide. He is one of 48 Pro Football Hall of Fame voters. He is an Associated Press All-Pro and awards voter. He’s covered Dolphins games in London, Berlin, Mexico City and Tokyo. He has covered 25 Super Bowls, the NBA Finals, and the Olympics.