The Dolphins still have a few ways to add to their treasure trove of picks in April’s draft.
One possible chip is impending free agent running back Kenyan Drake, who has been the source of trade speculation.
A source with direct knowledge said the Dolphins actually have shown interest in recent weeks in giving Drake a contract extension beyond this season. There have been conversations between the Dolphins and Drake’s representation.
But the result of those conversations between general manager Chris Grier and Drake’s representation is unknown, and whether they can agree to a deal remains a question. (Both the Dolphins and Drake’s agents - Ben Setas and Pat Dye - have declined to talk about it publicly.)
There’s also sentiment internally about not paying big money at the running back position, we’ve been told. So any contract with Drake would need to be on the Dolphins’ terms.
If the sides do not reach a deal on an extension, Drake could be dangled before the Oct. 29 trade deadline. One person in touch with the Dolphins is under the belief Drake is available for the right price. But the Dolphins haven’t been under the impression that they can get much in return even if they did trade him.
It seems senseless to lose Drake for nothing, because the Dolphins plan to be active in free agency and likely wouldn’t get a compensatory draft pick by losing him. So either extending his contract or trading him before Oct. 29 would seemingly make the most sense.
Whereas Reshad Jones went to the Dolphins in August to ask if he will be traded (they told him he will not be traded), Drake told me he has not and will not seek such clarity from the team.
Both Drake and Jones have said they have not asked for a trade.
Perhaps receiver DeVante Parker could net a mid-round pick if a contender loses a receiver to injury, but there’s no indication he’s available, and Parker has said he very much wants to remain a Dolphin. And the Dolphins have shown no interest in trading cornerback Xavien Howard, who would net a high pick in return.
But there is a way - probably not worth the trouble - that the Dolphins could add a late-round compensatory draft pick to supplement the two other compensatory picks that they’re expected to be awarded, according to overthecap.com’s Nike Korte.
Korte tells me that if the Dolphins release either cornerback Eric Rowe (highly unlikely) and/or backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick before Week 10, they could get a seventh-round compensatory pick.
According to Korte - who’s well-versed on the NFL’s compensatory pick formula - Miami’s acquisition of Rowe and Fitzpatrick in free agency cancels out the loss of Frank Gore (to Buffalo) and Brandon Bolden (to New England).
But could Miami get a seventh-round compensatory pick for Gore, because he’s playing so well for Buffalo, while Rowe and Fitzpatrick have been up and down as Dolphins?
“The only way I can see them getting a seventh for Gore or Brandon Bolden is if they cut one or both of Fitzpatrick or Eric Rowe before Week 10,” Korte said. “Since... Rowe is playing almost every down, the latter strikes me as quite unlikely.”
Would it be worth cutting bait with Fitzpatrick or Rowe by early November for the mere possibility of getting a seventh-rounder?
I would be surprised if the Dolphins did that, because Fitzpatrick offers protection as a potential backup quarterback next season if Josh Rosen sustains a serious injury or if Rosen is traded next spring.
(I expect Rosen to be with the Dolphins next season and compete with the quarterback the Dolphins take high in the draft.)
Miami would owe Fitzpatrick $1.5 million for next season - with a $1.5 million dead cap hit in 2020 - if it releases Fitzpatrick this season or next spring.
And dumping Rowe - who’s needed to play every down - for the chance to add another seventh-rounder seems not worth the trouble.
I would add this, though: Even though seventh-rounders obviously carry modest value, the advantage of a compensatory seventh-rounder is having the ability to draft a player who might attract considerable interest in the undrafted rookie free agent market.
Meanwhile, the notion of trading Fitzpatrick for a pick appears unlikely, unless a contending team loses multiple quarterbacks to injury and needs a stopgap.
Miami is expected to receive a third or fourth round compensatory pick for losing J’Wuan James and a fifth or sixth round compensatory pick for losing Cam Wake.
Excluding compensatory picks, the Dolphins have three first-round picks, two second-round picks, a third-round pick, no fourth-round pick and one fifth-round pick in next April’s draft. But it won’t be clear how many sixth- and seventh-round picks they will have until January, because of conditions on trades involving some of those picks.
Here’s my Tuesday piece on tight end Mike Gesicki.
Here’s my Tuesday piece with Dolphins notes from the ongoing NFL owners meetings in Fort Lauderdale.