The single greatest problem the Miami Dolphins have endured since the spring of 2000 when Dan Marino retired has been messing up quarterback moves. It has not been one mistake, but mistake after error after pratfall multiplied over nearly two decades.
The Dolphins don’t draft Drew Brees in 2001.
The Dolphins don’t sign Brees as a free agent in 2006.
The Dolphins pick up concussion-prone Trent Green in 2007 and, amazingly, he sustains a season-ending concussion.
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The Dolphins don’t draft Matt Ryan but do pick Chad Henne and follow that by selecting Pat White one year later — two back-to-back second-round busts.
The Dolphins shrug shoulders when Ryan Tannehill opts not to have knee surgery after tearing his ACL in 2016. The Dolphins don’t bring in someone to compete with Tannehill in 2017 and instead double down on the guy, giving him more guaranteed money for 2018, which makes getting rid of him more painful.
You have just read the autopsy for about 15 Dolphins seasons that were dead on arrival because the quarterback wasn’t right. And that’s the primary reason Dave Wannstedt, Rick Spielman, Nick Saban, Cam Cameron, Bill Parcells, Jeff Ireland, Joe Philbin, Mike Tannenbaum and Adam Gase didn’t get it done in Miami.
The quarterback moves.
And now Chris Grier is fully in charge of the organization’s moves. He is the King of the realm. It’s his baby.
And, so far, he is hitting one home run after another on quarterback moves.
Now, granted, it’s early in Grier’s reign. He has yet to make the move that ultimately will decide whether he succeeds or joins the list of sadness you just read. Grier has yet to find the guy — which could be a product of him being in the role less than three months.
But so far, so good.
So Grier has no starting quarterback on the team today. And that’s because on Friday he traded Tannehill and a 2019 sixth-round pick to the Tennessee Titans for seventh-round pick this year and a fourth-round pick next year.
And, yes, the move cost the Dolphins some money in that they had to kick in $5 million to help the Titans pay Tannehill a $7 million guarantee.
But the result is the Dolphins save $33 million in salary cap space during the next two years, including $25 million in 2020, add a fourth-round pick in 2020, and this ...
... There’s a fresh start.
The Tannehill era is over after seven seasons. The wringing of hands about whether he has long ball accuracy or pocket presence is moot. The debate whether Miami’s starting quarterback is ascending or descending is muted.
The frustration has passed.
And, by the way, I’m not talking about what happens among fans in a sports bar. Those things I just mentioned involved team coaches, general managers, executive vice presidents and even ownership the past seven years.
But, yes, a fan base that has been at times separated into opposing camps on Tannehill is now free of the division.
This is big. And it is right. And it comes as a relief.
By the way, this is all about Tannehill the quarterback. Tannehill the man and the Tannehill family are simply Hall of Fame caliber.
When God made good people, Tannehill was near the front of the line.
But good people don’t always show great instincts in the pocket, move their feet, manipulate the safety with the eyes and fire a 30-yard laser for a touchdown. That’s something else altogether.
So where do the Dolphins find themselves today?
Well, they are without a starting quarterback. And they’re the only NFL team without one. And we should all be totally fine with that.
Because the Miami Dolphins don’t play a game tomorrow.
And the team isn’t chasing a championship in 2019.
Grier days ago brilliantly declined to blink in contract talks with Teddy Bridgewater, and at least initial talks with Tyrod Taylor — both of whom wanted money and assurances to be Miami’s bridge quarterback to the future.
And refusing to overpay either of those two was great by Grier. So now the GM will presumably move on to the next guy.
Maybe Ryan Fitzpatrick. Maybe Blake Bortles. Maybe Grier will check in on a Josh Rosen trade possibility.
And I tell you, none of those are expected to be the thing, either.
The thing will be uncovered in the draft. Either Grier and his personnel people will in this draft fall in love with someone such as Drew Lock or Daniel Jones (assuming neither Kyler Murray nor Dwayne Haskins is available) or the team will be all in for a quarterback in the 2020 draft.
We don’t know how it will play out. I doubt Grier knows exactly how it will play out because so many things can happen and there are so many obstacles to overcome.
But for the first time in years Dolphins fans can have hope something is about to go right with their team and its quarterback decisions. Because they’ve seen a couple of quarterback decisions the past few days that the team got exactly right.