The Miami Dolphins traded longtime starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill to the Tennessee Titans on Friday in exchange for a 2020 fourth-round pick in addition to a seventh-round pick in 2019. The Titans will get the Dolphins’ sixth-round draft pick this year in addition to Tannehill.
After being drafted eighth overall in the 2012 NFL Draft, Tannehill was never able to establish himself as the Dolphins franchise quarterback. Despite signing a four-year, $96 million deal with Miami in 2015, the former Aggie finds himself backing up another struggling quarterback in Marcus Mariota. In six seasons, Tannehill completed 62.8% of his passes for 20,434 yards with 123 touchdowns and 75 interceptions. His career passer rating is just 87. Tannehill’s career has been plagued by injuries, missing 25 games over the past three seasons. His lackluster performance on the field paired with his injury history was enough for new General Manager Chris Grier to launch the team into a new era of Dolphins’ football. As the roster stands, Jake Rudock and Luke Falk are the only quarterbacks under contract for the 2019 season—making Miami a prime candidate to select a quarterback in the first round of next month’s draft. With pick 13, the Dolphins may have to trade up if they lock in on either Kyler Murray or Dwayne Haskins.
Trading Tannehill officially launches a new era of Dolphin’s football under Grier and rookie head coach Brian Flores. The Dolphins don’t have any blue-chip players on their roster, but do have a strong nucleus of young players that could be seen as building blocks for the future. Let’s take a look at a few of Miami’s key players heading into 2019.
Laremy Tunsil: After falling to the Dolphins at pick 13 in the 2016 Draft, Tunsil has established himself as one of the better young lineman in the league. After playing guard early on, Tunsil’s transition to left tackle has been successful. According to ProFootballFocus, Tunsil was the league’s 16th best pass-blocking tackle in 2018. Whoever starts at quarterback for the Dolphins in 2019 will drop back knowing his blindside is protected. Miami would be wise to offer Tunsil an extension before he becomes a free agent in 2020.
Minkah Fitzpatrick: The Dolphins selected Fitzpatrick 11th overall in last year’s draft to add a play-maker to a defense that ranked fifth worst at forcing turnovers in 2017. In his rookie season, Fitzpatrick had 80 tackles and 2 interceptions. Although he struggled at times in coverage, Fitzpatrick was a plus run-defender and should improve under Brian Flores.
Xavien Howard: Over the past two seasons Xavien Howard has put up 83 tackles and 11 interceptions in only 28 games. Howard’s top-end production earned him Pro-Bowl and Second-team All-Pro honors in 2018. Although his name has been mentioned in trade rumors, the Dolphins would be wise to lock up the 25-year-old corner.
Jerome Baker: Another rookie from 2018, Baker flashed a ton of potential as an off-the-ball linebacker, with 79 tackles, three sacks and an interception in his rookie campaign. Baker ran a 4.53 second 40-yard-dash at the combine, which helps explain his solid coverage ability as an outside linebacker. He paired nicely with second-year linebacker Raekwon McMillian and should be the long-term option at that spot in Miami’s defense.
Other players that could have a positive impact on the Dolphins over the next few years include Davon Godchaux, Albert Wilson, Jakeem Grant, Raekwon McMillan and Mike Gesicki.
The Dolphins lack star power. However, after the trade of Ryan Tannehill the Dolphins will have well over $100 million in cap space in 2020. Miami is in a rare position to build around a young quarterback on a rookie-deal while having the capital to make prudent moves in free agency. Chris Grier has his hands full—and the Dolphins can’t afford to whiff on their next franchise quarterback.