Greg Cote

It hurts, and Dolphins fans may hate trading away Tunsil, but Miami won with this deal | Opinion

The unthinkable has rocked the Miami Dolphins on the eve of 2019 NFL regular season.

There had been ongoing talks toward a possible trade for Texans star pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney — but the sticking point was Miami’s prudent unwillingness to part with elite left tackle Laremy Tunsil.

Well, on Saturday this happened:

The Dolphins somehow failed to land Clowney and gave up Tunsil.

I want to hate what just happened.

I cannot.

This may prove smart. The Fins got a ton in return. For now it is a huge risk, and one that threatens to demoralize the Dolphins locker room to start the season, considering the Miami Herald reported there could be a player “revolt” if Tunsil were traded. But, broad view, it could be the move that assures the Dolphins’ long-term future.

Because it is the deal that all but guarantees Miami will get coveted Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailao in the 2020 draft.

We’re getting ahead of ourselves.

The Seattle Seahawks earlier Saturday reached an agreement with Houston to acquire Clowney. In Miami that surely caused a (temporary) sigh of relief with the assumption that meant Tunsil would be staying put.

But no! Later Saturday came the blockbuster deal that sends Tunsil, receiver Kenny Stills and a fourth-round pick to Houston in exchange for Miami getting two first-round draft picks, a second-rounder and two Texans players including offensive tackle Julien Davenport, who started 15 games last season.

Two first-round picks and a second is a bounty, an offer the Dolphins found too great to refuse, and understandably.

I’d been a Tunsil-should-be-off-the-table guy, and still hate to see him go. But things change, deals change. And two firsts and a second is enough to shift the onus onto Houston for this trade, not Miami.

Give the Dolphins new braintrust of GM Chris Grier and coach Brian Flores this much: They are consistently moving forward with ownership’s design for a complete, ground-floor reboot that emphasizes building through the draft. Miami had stockpiled as many as 13 2020 pick even before Saturday’s trade. In accepting this windfall for Tunsil the Dolphins are sticking to their plan regardless of any reported threats of a player “revolt” or thoughts of fan backlash. I respect that.

Miami has been hell-bent to get its franchise quarterback in next April’s draft, and Saturday’s mega-trade helped make that a near-certainty.

Losing Tunsil hurts. The hurt will be quite literal for quarterbacks Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen this season.

But the arsenal of stockpiled draft picks will help Miami get its needed pass rusher, shore up its offensive line and — above all — finally find its future at quarterback.

What looks on the surface like a dubious deal could very well turn out to be an epic move forward in the rebuilding of a once-proud franchise.

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