A six-pack of Dolphins notes on a Tuesday:
▪ The Minkah Fitzpatrick trade - the latest in which Miami dealt an established player for a draft pick — elicited cautionary warnings from former NFL executives and national media members.
Some of the reaction:
Former Tampa Bay general manager Mark Dominik: “The Dolphins now have all these picks, but honestly the GM has been there drafting the same players they are now trading away.”...
Former Raiders executive Amy Trask: “When you trade a really good player for a draft pick, you better make good use of the pick and get a player at least as good as the one you traded — because picks alone don’t make a team better.”...
NFL Network draft analyst Bucky Brooks: “Accumulating a war chest of draft picks looks great on paper, but picking the players is a challenge. If first round-picks carry a 50% success rate, the Miami Dolphins would need to be exceptional drafters to match the value of what walked out of the door.
“It sounds nice, but the odds are against them nailing enough picks to move the needle. Just look at the history of teams with multiple picks.. It’s hard to find teams who’ve successfully parlayed draft picks into peak performance from multiple players from the same draft class.”...
A longtime former NFL general manager who requested anonymity during a phone conversation Tuesday: “This is too risky to strip to this level. It’s not how many freakin’ picks you have, but how many do you hit on. I like Chris Grier, but is he going to hit on most of these picks? I have doubts. It’s a crapshoot. Tua [Tagovailoa] is a good prospect, but he’s surrounded by such great players. They have three or four first-round skill position guys. He gets protection all day. He’s 6-1, and he can’t run [like fellow left-hander] Steve Young.”...
After longtime NFL writer Jason Cole said, “At a certain point what the Dolphins are doing is not healthy for the organization and players,” ESPN’s Chris Mortensen added: “Or the NFL. What about protecting “The Shield?”...
ESPN’s Louis Riddick, who has been highly critical of the Dolphins, called the situation “embarrassing.”...
And former Dolphins first-round pick Vontae Davis, who was traded to the Colts years ago, on Twitter: “I’m not surprised Dolphins always ship talent #ifeelyourpaindolphinfans.”
▪ Though the Dolphins will have more than $120 million in cap space next offseason, they already have $12 million in dead money for next season. That will grow if more veterans are purged. For example, if Ryan Fitzpatrick is cut, that another $1.5 million on the 2020 cap.
The Dolphins are up to $55 million in dead money for this season.
▪ The Dolphins played linebacker Raekwon McMillan on the edge, rather than the middle of the field, for parts of the New England game, and he played well.
“The role Raekwon had last week — that’s not indicative of exactly what it’ll be this week, but he excelled in it,” defensive coordinator Patrick Graham said. “He did a good job. I was happy with the work he did on the edge. He had plays when he was inside as well, too. He’s moving well and he’s diagnosing plays pretty well. He’s a physical football player who brings a little thump to him when he hits people.”
▪ Offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea said Tuesday that Josh Rosen has made progress in practice with reading defenses, which O’Shea acknowledged is “an area that was been well stated that he needs to improve on.”
“Anytime that you have to learn a new offense and you have to learn a new language and you’re doing it at a place in which it’s your first year, there’s challenges along the way,” O’Shea said. “But I certainly think there’s progress that’s been made. Last week was a good week for him — and during the week — of preparation.”
Coach Brian Flores has left open the possibility of Rosen starting at Dallas on Sunday.
How many games does it take to give Rosen a fair and full evaluation this season?
“We’ve talked about that as a staff, and I don’t think there’s a set-in-stone number,” O’Shea said.
▪ Couple of quick thoughts: Here’s why I would have kept Fitzpatrick and acquiesced to his request to play boundary and/or slot corner:
As a slot cornerback last season, he had a 49.7 passer rating in his coverage area, which was best in the league.
As a boundary cornerback, he had an 80.5 passer rating in his coverage area, second best on the team behind Xavien Howard and plenty good enough.
Brian Flores wanted to use him in multiple roles -including safety and linebacker - and that’s his right. But this was a case where the obvious solution — playing him at corner — would have been the best one, instead of hoping to hit on the first rounder you’re getting from Pittsburgh.
Former Dolphins general manager Randy Mueller said Fitzpatrick was justified in wanting his assignments dialed back.
“Minkah’s pushback is reasonable,” Mueller said. “He played multi-positions at Alabama. I remember saying when he came out, he’s never been able to work on his craft because he’s always filling in somewhere else that they need. He’s an NFL safety.”
▪ But I like Grier’s decision to be aggressive in free agency next spring and not “sit on” cap space. Two years of tanking would be excessive, and I say that even while knowing that Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence (potentially available in the 2021 draft) could be better than Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa (the likely No. 1 pick if the Dolphins get that pick).
With more than $120 million in cap space and seven picks in the first three rounds next April, there’s no reason this team can’t become competitive in 2020 if Tagovailoa is the real deal, with the goal of then filling additional needs with the two first-rounders and two-second rounders, plus additional cap space, in the spring of 2021.
Remember, you’re not going from potentially 0-16 to 10-6 overnight with a rookie quarterback. But there’s no need to have another year as painful as this one, if Miami gets it mostly right with player procurement next spring. That, of course, is a big if.
Here’s everything Grier had to say in his Tuesday morning news conference, his first since late April.