Miami Dolphins

Sorry Josh Rosen, but the Dolphins are committed to tanking

The Miami Dolphins accepted two first-round picks and a second from the Houston Texans for two key starters, signifying that they are indeed all-in on losing.

Usually, when an NFL team acquires a quarterback drafted No. 10 overall in the previous class for a high draft pick, they are committed to putting talented pieces around said quarterback in order to give him a fair evaluation. The Miami Dolphins, on the other hand, seem more interested in going full steam ahead with the tank of all tanks. This is NBA-style.

According to the NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, the Dolphins traded left tackle Laremy Tunsil and top wide receiver Kenny Stills to the Houston Texans for two first-round picks and a second-round pick.

That’s a commendable draft haul for the Dolphins, even if it involves the departures of two excellent starters. But because it involves trading two quality players for a haul of future draft capital, there’s a clear intention for the Dolphins to lose in their first season with a new coaching regime.

This doesn’t come as a surprise, since the Dolphins seemed to be headed towards that path when they signed Ryan Fitzpatrick as their starting quarterback in free agency. Miami then surprised people by acquiring Josh Rosen for a second and fifth-round pick during the draft.

Now that the Dolphins have named Fitzpatrick their Week 1 starter, traded their blindside protector and sent their most talented receiver packing, it seems like they are not interested in evaluating the quarterback they spent a high pick on. Either they are confident Rosen is the guy beyond 2019 for their rebuild, or, more likely, they see Rosen as a sunk cost and are more interested in pursuing Tua Tagovailoa in 2020. Or even Trevor Lawrence in 2021.

It’s a bold strategy from a Dolphins organization that has generally been anything but bold. For the most part, they have been in the NFL’s version of purgatory, stringing together mediocre seasons that would make Jeff Fisher’s resume jealous. As in the NBA, that type of perennial mediocrity leads to stagnation, so, on some level, the Dolphins should be praised for attempting a new, Sashi Brown-style strategy.

The Dolphins will have to commit in order for it to pay off, and that could mean that Rosen ends up being a casualty. Now, it’s not like the Dolphins are totally bereft of talent, but if they are willing to trade arguably their two best offensive players for a huge amount of draft capital, it stands to reason that nobody on the Dolphins’ roster is safe this year.

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DeVante Parker, Kenyan Drake, Albert Wilson, Jakeem Grant and Kalen Ballage are good enough to prevent a Fitzpatrick-led offense from being an embarrassment, but given the sudden awfulness of the Dolphins’ offensive line, it’s doubtful that they’d want to risk playing Rosen if they still value him as highly as a second (and fifth).

The 2019 season is shaping up to be an extremely interesting one for the Dolphins, but not because of their chances of winning games or even Brian Flores’s effectiveness as a coach. No, Miami will be an exciting case study in tanking, how to navigate a tank and how to keep trusting in a process no matter how much of a roller-coaster it is to go from a 300-yard Ryan Fitzpatrick first half to a 300-interception Ryan Fitzpatrick second half.

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