The Miami Dolphins have made no secret of their pressing need for a franchise quarterback. Yes, they signed Ryan Fitzpatrick last month to be their starter but no one thinks he’s Miami’s guy.
Least of all, Miami.
“We understand, and Ryan knows too, he’s not a long term solution for any team,” general manager Chris Grier said last week with no apologies.
The Dolphins, however, are not sweating their urgent need for a franchise quarterback. Both Grier and owner Stephen Ross said last week the Dolphins could pick one in this year’s draft, but if the right guy doesn’t come along, then they’ll focus on getting one in 2020.
(I pause here to tell you 1990s Armando cannot believe 2019 Armando just typed that last paragraph because the idea of the Dolphins having an obvious QB need and not addressing it immediately would have seemed bizarre and been considered personnel department malpractice when the Dolphins were still a winning organization. I mean, this approach is like having your car stolen and hitchhiking for a year because you believe next year’s models may be nicer than this year’s models.)
NFL people I speak with on a weekly basis cannot believe it when they hear the Dolphins might just wait a year to pick a QB. They think the idea is utter folly.
Teams with urgent quarterback needs, they say, don’t wait to fill that need.
Teams go all in.
To them, it’s not about waiting until sometime in the 2020s to be good. It’s about being good ASAP. And the fastest way to get good is to find a quarterback in the draft who can win.
This is where some Dolphins fans will make the point the team is picking No. 13 in the coming draft and it’s really, really, really hard to have the perfect quarterback land in the team’s lap in the middle of the first round.
But winning isn’t typically about waiting for something amazing to happen. It’s about going out and making something amazing happen.
Winning is about having a conviction about the right quarterback and moving toward him rather than waiting for luck to bring him to you.
So the idea of the Dolphins not being able to get their guy because that franchise QB wasn’t available exactly when the team was scheduled to pick is a farce. Teams with conviction go get their guys.
Since the 2016 draft the NFL norm has become teams trading up for their quarterbacks.
Indeed, the Browns, who held the No. 1 overall pick in 2018, are the only ones the past three drafts that have not traded up to pick their quarterback in the first round.
The Los Angeles Rams traded up to pick Jared Goff.
The Philadelphia Eagles traded up -- going from 12th to eighth overall in a trade with Miami, and then vaulting to second overall in a trade with Cleveland -- to land Carson Wentz.
The Bears traded up a spot to ensure themselves of getting Mitchell Trubisky.
In 2017, Kansas City traded up from the 27th overall selection to No. 10 overall in order to pick Patrick Mahomes Jr.
The Houston Texans did something similar that very draft, vaulting from 25th overall to No. 12 to draft DeShaun Watson.
Last year the New York Jets traded from No. 6 overall to No. 3 to get Sam Darnold.
The Buffalo Bills went from 21st overall to 12th overall to seventh overall -- trading away a first-round pick, two second-round picks, a fifth-round pick and offensive tackle Cordy Glenn -- to put themselves in position to select Josh Allen.
Even the Arizona Cardinals gave up an extra third- and fifth-round pick to move from No. 15 overall to No. 10 so they could select Josh Rosen.
Teams with exigent needs take action.
They see their prize and go get it.
And now someone might be thinking, well, this draft poses no such opportunities. The Dolphins might be locked in at No. 13 with no chance of getting the right guy -- assuming they have one.
But the truth is the only way the Dolphins cannot get their guy is if the Arizona Cardinals lock in to Kyler Murray and refuse to trade the pick before selecting him No. 1 overall. There’s nothing Miami or anyone can do about that.
But every other scenario is wide open to the Dolphins.
Every other QB, save Murray in that scenario, is available to the Dolphins.
All of them.
And this: In recent years the Dolphins didn’t make bold moves because they were locked in to Ryan Tannehill. Or, the latest excuse, the quarterback in the draft “may not have fit” what the head coach and play-caller was looking for, which Grier used during the NFL annual meeting.
Those are no longer valid. Tannehill is gone. So is Adam Gase. The field is clear.
So no excuses.
It says here that if the Dolphins really want to shake the ground of the 2019 NFL draft they can vault as high as the No. 3 overall pick for a quarterback.
Because the New York Jets, who hold the No. 3 overall selection, are open for business.
“We’re very open to potentially moving back from 3,” Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan said last week. “If we end up staying at 3 and taking a player, we think there are some very good players at 3. But we’d definitely be interested if another team came with an offer that we felt was worthy moving out of the spot.
”I think there’s some really good spots in this draft. There isn’t an answer, per se, that we want to go back to 8, 10, 12. I think it really depends on what the picks are that would be in the trade.”
Notice Maccagnan didn’t say he wouldn’t trade with a division rival. Or another AFC team. He’s looking for a trade partner that is willing to give up premium picks.
And the Dolphins have premium picks because they could potentially offer their first-round pick this year, their second-round pick this year and their first-round pick and another pick next year.
And those 2020 picks are potentially very valuable because everyone around the league expects the Dolphins to pick fairly high in 2020 regardless of whether they have a rookie first-round quarterback on the roster or not.
So the question is not whether Miami has the draft resources to move up for a prized quarterback, but whether the Dolphins can identify that guy, then make the bold (and risky) move up the draft board to pick him.
It’s far safer to kick the can down the road and be better positioned in 2020, after a bad season in 2019, with a higher pick.
Most everyone I talk to around the league believe this is what the Dolphins will ultimately choose to do.
But this much is clear: In a year the Dolphins need a franchise quarterback more than any other NFL team, they do indeed have the ammunition to get that guy -- except maybe if the Cardinals pick of Murray at No. 1.
If someone such as Drew Lock, Dwayne Haskins, Daniel Jones or anyone else in Miami’s reach eventually becomes a franchise quarterback that carries a team into the 2030s, there is no excuse for the Dolphins to have missed on him this draft.
Because good teams don’t sit around or wait until next year.
They go get their quarterback as soon as possible.