Armando Salguero

A Miami Dolphins tank job for 2019 brings a treasure trove of picks for the future | Opinion

If you weren’t convinced the Miami Dolphins were tanking the 2019 season after what they did in the offseason, the team asked you to hold its beer and watch what happened on Saturday.

Because Miami traded starting left tackle Laremy Tunsil, a very good player and a presumed cornerstone of the coming rebuild.

And Miami traded Kenny Stills, who was the team’s best touchdown-producer among its wide receivers the past three years.

And the Dolphins reaction to this unprecedented fire sale was something akin to a celebration.

They’re thrilled!

They’re getting a first-round pick from the Houston Texans in 2020 and that means the Dolphins have two first-round picks in 2020. They’re getting a 2021 first-rounder from Houston and so the Dolphins now have two first-round picks in 2021.

They’re getting a 2021 second-round pick from Houston and that means Miami has two second-round picks each of the next two years.

Yeah, blockbuster.

Last year’s Khalil Mack trade called and was upset it seems unremarkable by comparison.

This year’s Odell Beckham Jr. trade called, and it’s punching out a kicking net someplace.

The Herschel Walker trade called and thinks the Dolphins’ current take was a lot.

This huge haul starting next spring and extending into the spring of 2021 screams from mountain tops what the Dolphins have been denying for some time: They’ve given up on 2019 and they’re all about 2020 and ‘21 and beyond.

General Patton called and wants his tank battalion back.

And I’m having some fun here because you deserve to smile before this 2019 NFL season begins. Because you’re not going to be smiling too much when you see this team’s results.

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The Dolphins were going to be bad with Tunsil protecting the quarterback’s blind side. Now their new cornerstone left tackle is ... who knows? The Dolphins don’t have anyone really ready to inherit the position.

And whoever does inherit that spot is likely going to stink.

So make sure your medical insurance is paid up, Ryan Fitzpatrick. Get ready to relive your 2018 experience in Arizona, Josh Rosen. Because both of you are going to get roughed up this season.

This trade makes what was headed toward an ugly experience into a strong contender in an ugliest NFL season contest. And this trade definitely comes at the expense of the players left behind in that Miami locker room.

How can those guys like this? How can those guys respect what’s happening?

Oh, they don’t.

They’ll grit teeth and say the right things because they’re getting paid. But those guys are professionals and, more importantly, competitors. And they recognize the same organization that demands they play hard every snap is basically taking a year off.

And now let me address the future — because it’s basically the thing the Dolphins can sell now.

This trade brings hope for the future. This trade is a path to competing for championships years from now. The armored car of picks the Dolphins are getting the next two drafts seems like a lot.

Because it’s a lot!

It has the team rejoicing. Celebrating.

And they should because the resources at the disposal of general manager Chris Grier and coach Brian Flores suggest they’ll be Super Bowl contenders in 2023ish. That’s not an overstatement because draft hauls like this can deliver championships.

The problem with this is a lot of picks only guarantees you of an opportunity to win big. It doesn’t guarantee, you know, actually winning big.

The Dolphins will now be a worse team, which means they’ll likely be picking in the top-5 spots of next spring’s draft. And if they’re not at the very top of the draft, they’ll have significant draft capital to move up to get their quarterback, which obviously is their plan.

Now all they have to do is pick the right guy.

The Dolphins front office must do what it always asks players to do: Execute. Do their job.

They didn’t do it with Ryan Tannehill. It doesn’t seem like they did it with Rosen , who had about as many good moments and bad moments this preseason. So this front office has to figure out if Tua Tagovailoa or Justin Herbert or Jordan Love is the right guy.

And if they do that, their assignment still won’t be complete.

Because even if the Dolphins identify and land the right quarterback — big if — they have to find a way to protect him. They have to find a way to use the rest of their boatload of picks they just got for trading Tunsil to replace Tunsil.

The Indianapolis Colts just showed everyone that a team can absolutely nail it on drafting a franchise quarterback. Andrew Luck was a generational talent. And the Colts wasted him because they didn’t protect him his first three or four seasons in the league.

And now he’s gone and the Colts have nothing to show for it.

So what the Dolphins did Saturday comes with great possibilities. It comes with great promise for the future. If we could only skip 2019’s looming disaster and get to that future.

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