Turns out the Miami Dolphins tried to move on from quarterback Ryan Tannehill a year earlier than anyone thought.
The team mounted an effort, led by former coach Adam Gase, to trade for a quarterback to replace Tannehill before the 2018 season, according to multiple league sources.
And the target of Gase’s attempt to upgrade the Dolphins at quarterback was Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, sources also say.
Gase, in fact, reached out personally to Lions coach Matt Patricia to try to pry Stafford from the Lions.
Gase and Patricia are friends and the Lions coach was new to the Lions at the time and considering all options on how to improve his team.
Although it’s not believed the talks reached a point where the Dolphins were asked what they were willing to give for Stafford, it is believed Gase would have offered at minimum Miami’s 2018 first-round pick and probably more.
Patricia, obviously recognizing Stafford’s value to the Lions, told Gase he was not willing to move on from the quarterback at that point, per sources.
Stafford, now 31 years old, was the first overall selection of the 2009 draft and has been a good and sometimes very good player in Detroit. He would have been an upgrade for the Dolphins.
But Stafford has never been consistently elite nor been able to raise the Lions to championship levels — not even when he threw a career-high 41 touchdown passes with 16 interceptions in 2011.
The move Gase attempted flies in the face of the narrative that he was so committed — some say blinded — to Ryan Tannehill that he didn’t really consider improving the quarterback spot with any urgency.
It bears remembering that before the 2018 season, Tannehill had missed the previous 20 games with a knee injury. So it makes sense the Dolphins would have been shopping for an upgrade.
Until now, however, it has been generally accepted that the team looked only to the draft for the upgrade at quarterback. The Dolphins closely studied Josh Rosen, Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold and Josh Allen in the last draft but did not trade up for any of them and instead drafted defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick with the 11th overall selection in the first round.
Stafford last year completed 367 of 555 passes for 3,777 yards (66.1 completion percentage) with 21 touchdown passes and 11 interceptions. He played all 16 games.
Tannehill, in what would be his seventh and final season with the Dolphins, was limited to 11 starts and thew 17 touchdown passes and nine interceptions, while completing 64.2 percent of his passes.
Tannehill was last week traded to the Tennessee Titans for a fourth-round pick in the 2020 draft.