The Miami Dolphins have given permission to the representation of defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, a first-round pick in 2018, to gauge trade interest around the NFL, NFL sources tell the Miami Herald.
ESPN first reported Thursday night that Fitzpatrick’s agent Joel Segal is seeking a new landing spot for Fitzpatrick. The Dolphins, however, are not actively shopping Fitzpatrick, according to sources.
The Dolphins, those sources say, would only consider trading Fitzpatrick if “significant compensation” is returned to them for Fitzpatrick.
But -- and this is important -- it’s unlikely any trade will happen soon because what the Dolphins deem as significant includes multiple high-round draft picks, including at least one first-round selection.
Fitzpatrick, selected No. 11 overall when Miami selected him last year, is unlikely to bring that kind of return because he had a good but not necessarily great rookie year and struggled in the season-opener last week in a 59-10 loss to Baltimore.
After that game, ProFootballTalk.com reported multiple players called their agents to ask them to get them out of Miami. The Herald confirmed that report and added the players were upset about their playing time, their usage and the lack of adjustments by coaches -- particularly on defense.
Fitzpatrick was asked this week if he wanted to remain in Miami but his answer was vague.
“Yeah, I want to play football,” he said. “I’ve lost games before. It hasn’t been like this, but I’ve lost games before. Like I said, all I can control is my attitude, the joy that I have for this game and the passion for this game and that’s it.”
A source close to Fitzpatrick tells the Herald he has been dissatisfied in Miami since the new coaching staff led by Brian Flores took over. That staff has not embraced Fitzpatrick to the same degree the previous coaching staff did.
The new staff has also struggled to have a clear vision for Fitzpatrick. From the Dolphins perspective, coaches see Fitzpatrick as something of a jack of all trades but they are still searching for the position where he can be dominant.
So the team has continued to move Fitzpatrick around and last week against Baltimore he played safety, linebacker, and nickel corner.
Fitzpatrick, the source close to him said, emerged from Sunday’s game convinced coaches didn’t have a clear plan for him. He doesn’t believe they put him in the best position to succeed.
Flores and Fitzpatrick spent time together this week, per club sources, discussing among other things how to make the relationship work for both sides. It’s obvious the conversations, including one over lunch, did not completely satisfy all parties
While managing the behind-the-scenes issues, Flores has publicly walked a line between complimenting and rebuking Fitzpatrick this week.
“Minkah had some good plays, he had some bad plays,” the coach said. “At the end of the day, we wanted to get some other guys in there. He’s a good player for us. We have a lot of confidence in him. Like all of us – players, coaches – he’s got to improve and perform better.”
Fitzpatrick played multiple positions last season, spending the most time at nickel cornerback where he was one of the best in the league, according to multiple metrics. He also played at boundary cornerback and both safety spots, although with much less success.
This year, however, Fitzpatrick wanted to concentrate on one spot.
“I can’t speak on last year,” Dolphins defensive coordinator Patrick Graham said this week when asked about Fitzpatrick’s use. “I wasn’t here last year, nor am I worried about last year. I just know this past week, we tried to do what was best for the team and for the defense and tried to deploy players in the right spots and seeing what we thought was the right way to go.
“That’s how we’re going to approach defensively – how we’re going to use guys and where we put them at.”
Fitzpatrick’s disillusion with the Dolphins stems primarily from him wanting to play in that one position so that he can thrive at that spot. The Dolphins meanwhile believe his best value for now remains at multiple spots, depending on the game plan week to week.
When the team put him at strong safety one week during August dual practices in Tampa Bay, Fitzpatrick’s mother, Melissa, said on Twitter that he was being asked to play out of position.
Fitzpatrick told reporters he agreed with his mother’s thoughts after that practice, saying, “She’s not wrong. Coach has asked me to do something right now. I got to do what they ask me to do. If we have to have some discussions in the future, we’ll have those discussions.
“I’m not 215 pounds, 220 pounds. So playing in the box isn’t best suited for me, but that’s what coach is asking me to do.”
The Dolphins were not pleased with Fitzpatrick’s candor.
Fitzpatrick and safety Reshad Jones share the same agent. There have been whispers Jones was not happy with his limited playing time in Sunday’s game.
After making a play near the goal line, he was taken out of the game on the next play and was seen throwing his helmet when he reached the sideline.
But a source close the situation said late Thursday Jones had not asked to be traded or shopped through Segal, as Fitzpatrick has. Trading Jones would be very difficult because his contract makes such a deal hard for another team to take onto their salary cap.