Barry Jackson

Some clarity on Tunsil trade report. And Dolphins open for business.

Dolphins tackle Tunsil is maturing, and that is what he likes most

Miami Dolphins tackle Laremy Tunsil is maturing, and that is what he likes most as the Fins get closer to the start of the regular season, August 19, 2019.
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Miami Dolphins tackle Laremy Tunsil is maturing, and that is what he likes most as the Fins get closer to the start of the regular season, August 19, 2019.

The Dolphins, in the first year of a rebuild, have made several veteran players available in trade discussions, but Laremy Tunsil apparently isn’t one of them, based on what the Dolphins have conveyed to the Tunsil camp.

Amid published reports that Tunsil has been dangled in trade discussions, the Dolphins assured the Tunsil camp that there is no truth to that, according to a league source with direct knowledge.

Several teams have inquired about Tunsil, believing the Dolphins are willing to trade established veteran players for draft picks. The Dolphins have fielded those calls but in Tunsil’s case, haven’t acted on them to this point.

The Miami Herald received a call early last week, from a credible source, that Tunsil’s name had come up in trade discussions, but it was not indicated who had initiated those calls, and The Herald did not report it at the time.

Longtime NFL draft analyst Tony Pauline, through a Twitter account and web site called the Pro Football Network, reported Saturday that Tunsil has been dangled around the league in trade talks.

Meanwhile, eyebrows were raised when Tunsil was a healthy scratch for the Dolphins’ third preseason game.

But if the Dolphins get bowled over by an offer and trade Tunsil, it would run counter to what they’ve conveyed to his camp. If that were to happen, they would need to explain to his camp that they received an offer they couldn’t refuse.

Tunsil, selected 13th overall in the 2017 draft, has started every game he has played in his first three seasons - missing four due to injury - and has established himself as one of the NFL’s best young left tackles, a premium position.

Tunsil, 25, is under contract for this season at $2.1 million in the final year of his four-year rookie deal, and the Dolphins exercised his 2020 option for $10.3 million, which is non-guaranteed but assuredly will be exercised by Miami unless that’s replaced by a longterm contract.

The Dolphins broached a contract extension with Tunsil’s camp earlier this summer and the sides had discussions but tabled further talks until next offseason.

If the Dolphins and Tunsil cannot agree to a deal beyond 2020, Miami always has the right to use the franchise tag to keep him.

Meanwhile, the Dolphins have dangled several players with the hope of adding to their treasure trove of 12 expected draft choices in 2020.

According to league sources, safety Reshad Jones and linebacker Kiko Alonso are among those who have been available. A high-ranking league official said Saturday that he doubts Miami would find a trade partner for Alonso or Kenny Stills because teams would wait for them to be cut.

Jones no longer is expected to be an every down player in Miami’s defense, and while he said he’s happy to accept that role, Miami has made attempts to deal him. Alonso’s playing time is expected to diminish dramatically because of the emergence of Jerome Baker and Sam Eguavoen.

A league source said there are also questions about the future of Raekwon McMillan, whose role will be impacted by Eguavoen’s development. While the Dolphins would not cut McMillan, the team likely would listen if there’s an appealing trade offer.

McMillan graded out as one of the NFL’s best linebackers against the run over the final five weeks of last season, but his pass catching metrics were second-worst among linebackers, according to Pro Football Focus. As a result, McMillan isn’t expected to be an every-down player with the Dolphins.

Alonso and McMillan have been sidelined several weeks with undisclosed injuries.

The Dolphins would save $4 million in cash if they cut Alonso and also would reap substantial cap savings in 2020. They would reap immediate cap savings only if Alonso is traded, not cut.

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