The Miami Dolphins will not be trading for Houston Texans defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, multiple league sources said Tuesday contrary to rumors that have pervaded the internet the last 24 hours. So there you have it, a giant zero packaged as news.
Except that’s not actually the news.
At least that’s not the news Dolphins fans should really care about. The information that actually affects this team and its future is the reason the Dolphins have no desire to pursue whatever Clowney interest the Texans may try to elicit:
The Dolphins are not looking at adding Clowney because they are interested in finding a quarterback in next year’s draft. And not just any quarterback, by the way, but the best one they can find in the first round.
And that will require next year’s first-round draft pick and possibly more picks if the team has to trade those to climb higher in the draft order to grab that quarterback.
So the Dolphins feel they cannot trade away the pick or some of the picks they would potentially use to select a quarterback in next year’s draft.
(Obviously, if the Texans wanted to deal Clowney for a second- or third-round pick, that would pique any team’s interest. But that’s not reality because the Texans aren’t trading away Clowney at a bargain rate, if at all).
So no Clowney for the Dolphins because they’re going to be chasing the hottest quarterback prospect next spring.
This chase has so far been the subject of much speculation and many predictions without tangible facts to prove it will happen. Except it’s a real thing now. It’s a practical certainty.
Because the Dolphins have already made plans to be at nearly all the games Georgia’s Jake Fromm, Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, and Oregon’s Justin Herbert will play this fall. The Dolphins already have plans to be all over those three.
And there may be one or two other quarterbacks the team scrutinizes extremely closely in the next eight months with the purpose of deciding which player they most covet and want to select in the first round of next year’s draft.
This is happening, according to multiple sources.
And this suggests something about the Dolphins current quarterback competition between Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen. This advance planning that will end with the Dolphins adding a rookie quarterback next year suggests the team doesn’t think it has a franchise quarterback in either Fitzpatrick or Rosen to carry into the future.
Because if one of those guys was the guy for years to come, all the work about to be done on the college quarterbacks would be in vain.
Except that isn’t necessarily the way the team is thinking.
The Dolphins are letting the Rosen-Fitzpatrick competition play itself out to decide this year’s quarterback situation. But the view at the position beyond this year remains fuzzy.
General manager Chris Grier has already said Fitzpatrick is not the future. And he’s right because Fitzpatrick is going to be 37 years old in November, so the expiration date on his career demands looking for quarterback help.
And no one can honestly look at the last few weeks of training camp and think Rosen is a certainty to blossom into a franchise quarterback. Right now, for example, Rosen is trying to address such fundamental things as “getting guys in and out of the huddle,” which coach Brian Flores said Tuesday needs improvement.
Flores has also been critical of Rosen’s decision-making (after the preseason game last week) and body language (also after Tuesday’s practice).
All those combined don’t scream Josh Rosen is absolutely, positively the future.
But either Rosen or Fitzpatrick can be part of the team’s future at quarterback -- perhaps in a competition with the 2020 draftee or as a backup. So either could remain with the team beyond this year.
But certainty as the franchise guy?
Not at this point.
That brings us back to Clowney. Because the Dolphins are not going all in on him should not be understood as the team feeling comfortable with what it has on the defensive line. Remember the team last week signed sometimes troubled Robert Nkemdiche to see if he could correct career course and somehow help the unit.
“We’ve got a few guys there we’re working,” Flores said. “I think those guys are working hard and doing a good job. We’ll continue to work those guys. Obviously they need to improve. We all need to improve. We need to improve at each position. Hopefully we continue to get better.”
So the Dolphins are looking for upgrade at defensive line as well.
But finding that quarterback next year is simply more important.