The Miami Dolphins seem to be done waiting for Ryan Tannehill to take the next step, but sticking with him one more year looks like a distinct possibility.
Amid injuries and inconsistency, and now with a new head coach coming, all signs point to the Miami Dolphins moving on from quarterback Ryan Tannehill this offseason. On that front, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald has reported the Dolphins will explore trading the former first-round pick.
Tannehill is due to make around $19 million in each of the next two seasons, and as the market value of quarterbacks increases another teams may be willing to take that on. The Dolphins can clear $13.2 million in 2019 cap space by trading or releasing Tannehill, and if he’s designated a post-June 1 cut they can clear $18.7 million for this year. There’s dead money involved, but the cap savings outweigh it.
Over the last three seasons, with a missed season in 2017 because of a torn ACL, Tannehill has played in 24 games. A shoulder injury took him off the field this year, and he threw for just 1,979 yards with 17 touchdown passes, nine interceptions and a 92.7 passer rating in 11 games.
After seven seasons of failing to reach a new level, since being drafted eighth overall in 2012, the Dolphins can’t be blamed for being ready to give up on Tannehill. They were interested in quarterbacks during the 2018 pre-draft process, and if not for four signal callers going in the first 10 picks they may have taken one at No. 11 overall.
But if they do cut or trade Tannehill, Miami’s plan to replace him has to be clear. This year’s draft class is not nearly as deep as last year’s, with one sure-fire first-round pick (Dwayne Haskins, if he declares) so taking one at No. 13 overall looks like a reach. The 2020 draft class looks better for quarterbacks, with Justin Herbert and Tua Tagovailoa set to headline.
Some other moves are sure to come beyond anything that might happen with Tannehill, but as of right now the Dolphins don’t have a lot of cap space. They’ve lingered in frustrating mediocrity for a decade, as further reflected by Tannehill’s 42-46 career record as a starter, so a full-on rebuild may be coming.
The free agent class at quarterback is never particularly deep. But there’s no Kirk Cousins set to break the bank this year, or even a Case Keenum-type coming off a career year. The current top options on the open market are Teddy Bridgewater, Tyrod Taylor and most likely Nick Foles, with Joe Flacco set to be cut by the Baltimore Ravens if they can’t find a trade. Brock Osweiler had some good moments filling in for Tannehill this year, and he could theoretically be brought back to Miami as a backup.
With other teams unlikely to give up much in a trade, and a limited market anyway, the Dolphins are more likely to cut Tannehill in order to launch a reset under center. Shy of making that full reset with a rookie quarterback that likely won’t be a first-round pick in April, the team’s best path might be to stick it out one more year while adding someone to legitimately compete with Tannehill for the starting job.