Minkah Fitzpatrick played his final game for the Miami Dolphins on Sunday — as expected — and now that he has been traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers comes a little respite.
Barring another dramatic phone call from a disgruntled player to his agent, the Dolphins are not juggling any other trade requests. I should rephrase: The Dolphins as of Monday evening had no other trade requests from a player on their roster they were dealing with.
The Fitzpatrick trade is curious.
The Dolphins made Fitzpatrick available because he told the Dolphins weeks ago he wanted to play either nickel cornerback or boundary cornerback. He didn’t want to play either safety position.
The Dolphins tried to convince Fitzpatrick his greatest asset was being able to move from one spot to another to another from game to game. (They probably overdid it with the idea he might play some linebacker, too, but I think that was correctable).
Anyway, too late.
Fitzpatrick didn’t want to be part of this Dolphins rebuild. Didn’t want to work for this coaching staff. Didn’t want any part of the pain of 2019 and probably beyond.
So he’s gone.
And I’m going to say something you don’t expect: The Dolphins didn’t do too poorly here. There is actually a chance the team will come out somewhat all right if we’re gauging the value of the pick.
The fact is most times you’re flipping a player for a draft pick, you’re not getting equal value on your original investment if the player is not elite. The Dolphins used a No. 11 overall selection on Fitzpatrick in 2018. They simply weren’t getting that now based on his wanting to leave and his good-not-great production.
So Miami had to make the best of a bad situation.
All three teams interested in Fitzpatrick through the weekend and into Monday were solid ballclubs with designs on making the playoffs this season. But of those three, the Steelers stood out.
The Steelers are not certain of anything in 2019. They have an 0-2 record. And starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is out for the season with an elbow injury. The Steelers currently are tied with Cincinnati for last place in the AFC North.
So there’s uncertainty there.
The Steelers might recover with reserve quarterback Mason Rudolph at the helm. After all, they like him. They have confidence in him. In which case the first-round pick the Dolphins are getting from the Steelers could be in the 20s.
Or the Steelers might not recover. And that is an amazing possibility because perhaps this draft pick will be in the teens. Remember, the Steelers must play .500 football the remainder of the season with their backup quarterback to merely finish with a 7-9 record.
The Dolphins had a 7-9 record in 2018 and picked No. 13 overall.
One NFL personnel man who I greatly respect told me this could be a good trade for the Dolphins if the pick is in the top 10.
Obviously the Steelers are no dummies. They understand their situation so they exacted a fourth-round pick from the Dolphins in 2020 in exchange for a fifth-rounder in 2020. They also gave a sixth-rounder in 2021 in exchange for a seventh-rounder that same year.
But let’s face it, the Dolphins were compelled to trade Fitzpatrick.
You simply cannot keep a disgruntled player on the roster when you have several other crisis issues you’re managing — and believe me, the Dolphins have been putting out a lot of fires the last three weeks or so.
Here’s the ironic part for Fitzpatrick: The Steelers made the trade presumably to improve their safety position. And the trade comes at a time when free safety Sean Davis is nursing a labrum injury.
Except, you just read Fitzpatrick told the Dolphins he wanted to play nickel or boundary cornerback. So he could be headed to a position in Pittsburgh he didn’t want to play in Miami.
I assume the Steelers spoke with Fitzpatrick before making the deal so those issues will be addressed. Also not Miami’s issue anymore.
The Steelers obviously feel the Roethlisberger window might be closing so they need experienced, proven players when he returns in 2020. They have that in Fitzpatrick
The Dolphins weren’t going to win with this deal, but at least they didn’t necessarily lose. We will see where the first-rounder lands.
On its face, the exchange doesn’t seem bad for either team — depending on what the Steelers do the remainder of this season.