The Miami Dolphins’ rebuilding or tanking or dismantling — or whatever you want to call it — has been compared to the path taken by several NBA teams in recent years.
And the Dolphins this week utilized a strategy that has been used by NBA teams — absorbing a player’s salary into cap space if the team looking to dump that player gives them a draft pick.
The Dolphins told the Rams they would absorb Aqib Talib’s $4.2 million salary into their $29 million in available cap space if the Rams gave them a 2020 fifth-round draft pick (via Baltimore). The Rams — who are up against the cap — agreed to do it, with the Dolphins agreeing to send the Rams a seventh-round pick in 2022.
That marks the third time this season that the Dolphins paid millions to essentially buy a mid-round draft pick.
The Dolphins paid Ryan Tannehill a $5 million bonus to facilitate a trade to the Tennessee Titans for a fourth-round pick. Then they gave Robert Quinn a $1.1 million bonus, paving the way for a trade to Dallas for a sixth-rounder.
That means Miami paid $10.3 million to acquire fourth-,fifth- and sixth-round picks in April’s draft, giving them 14 selections overall.
Coach Brian Flores, asked about this unusual approach, said general manager Chris Grier, vice president/football administration Brandon Shore, Ross and president Tom Garfinkel “look at every situation, any avenue to help this team improve. That’s one of the things I admire about being here.”
As for Talib, he might never play a down for the Dolphins. Flores will allow him to remain in Los Angeles to rehabilitate a knee injury.
An impending unrestricted free agent, Talib is eligible to come off the injured list for Week 15, but Flores has declined to say if the Dolphins want him to play for them this season or at any point.
“He’s going to rehab in L.A. for a little bit and then we’ll take it from there,” Flores said.
The Dolphins signed tight end Clive Walford, who was released with an injury settlement Aug. 27.
Miami, as expected, placed cornerback Xavien Howard on injured reserve, very likely ending his season.
Howard doesn’t have a severe knee injury, but he is injured and the team wanted to be cautious with its most accomplished player.
Howard’s loss for the season “sucks,” safety Bobby McCain said. “But we want to make sure he’s healthy because we’re going to need him.”
Walford had four catches for 43 yards for the Dolphins in preseason. He has 70 receptions for 768 yards and six touchdowns in 45 NFL games — 44 for Oakland and one (last season) for the Jets. He essentially replaces No. 3 tight end Nick O’Leary, who was released on Tuesday.
▪ As expected, Flores said Ryan Fitzpatrick will start at quarterback against the Jets on Sunday because “he gives us the best chance to win.”
▪ Center Daniel Kilgore (knee) returned to practice, on a limited basis, after missing two games. Also limited: McCain, defensive linemen Robert Nkemdiche and Avery Moss, safety Walt Aikens and receiver Albert Wilson. Safety Reshad Jones (chest) and cornerback Ken Webster (ankle) did not practice.
VETERAN CORNERBACK ADDED
The Dolphins claimed veteran starting cornerback Ken Crawley off waivers from New Orleans on Wednesday afternoon, and he has a chance of emerging as a starter because he’s the most experienced corner on the roster. To make room on the roster, Miami released receiver Isaiah Ford.
Crawley, undrafted out of Colorado in 2016, spent the past four seasons with the Saints, playing in 39 games and starting 23. He has 128 career tackles, one interception, 31 passes defended, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. He also started two playoff games.
With Howard on IR - he’s not planning to have surgery, according to a source - and Webster injured and cornerback Eric Rowe working at safety the past two weeks in Jones’ absence, the Dolphins have an extremely young group of cornerbacks, with Nik Needham, Ryan Lewis, Jomal Wiltz and Chris Lammons.
Crawley becomes the most experienced cornerback of that group. He started five games for the Saints last season but appeared in only one game this season.
Several Dolphins said they will be pleased to see former coach Adam Gase when his Jets visit Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday.
“Me personally, he truly cared about me,” receiver Jakeem Grant said. “That’s what I love about him. Me and him have a relationship outside of football. Whenever the season is not going, I talk to him, asks me how my family is doing. I ask him the same.”
Offensive tackle Jesse Davis called Gase a “good friend of mine. He gave me my shot. He had a lot of trust in me.”
Asked if Gase will try to run the score up on the Dolphins, Davis said “probably. Hopefully, we’ll run the score up on him.”
Will it be easier for incumbent Dolphins players to prepare for the Jets because of their familiarity with Gase’s offensive tendencies?
McCain said yes, adding: “Some things we’ll know that get thrown at us, and some we won’t. I’m sure he will have a couple things in there that are new because he’s a good coach, he’s a good coordinator and he’s a good offensive mind.”
▪ Flores, asked how important league-wide respect is for him: “The opinion of others have really never mattered to me. I have a lot of peace. I do. I’m confident in my ability to coach. I’m confident in my coaching staff’s ability to coach. I’m confident in our players. That gives me peace of mind. I don’t really care what anyone else thinks, quite honestly.”