NFL Trade Deadline: Dolphins on the Move?

Dolphins Trade Deadline
Credit: Phin Phanatic

As Tuesday’s trade deadline rapidly approaches, the Miami Dolphins may be looking to move players. Two players whose names have come up as tradable pieces are Albert Wilson and Devante Parker. Miami, whose season is likely over, might be looking to move high salaries or under performers and gain draft capital for the coming years.

Albert Wilson

Albert Wilson might have been the Dolphins best player during camp. Wilson and 2nd-year QB Tua Tagovailoa were showing significant chemistry and were connecting all over the field. 

Wilson was expected to be a big contributor in the offense and have a lot of playing time. Unfortunately, he hasn’t seen the field much and has struggled to be productive when he step on the field.

This season, Wilson has just 7 catches for 45 yards. He is averaging 3.75 yards per target. In week 3, Wilson played 55% of the Dolphins offensive snaps. He hasn’t been close to that number again and played just 4% of snaps last week. Mack Hollins and Preston Williams (when healthy) are seeing more snaps than the Training Camp MVP. The Dolphins clearly don’t have a plan to use Wilson this year and should look to trade him for a position of need (OL, LB) or future draft picks.

Wilson is set to hit free agency after this season, so the Dolphins moving him before the trade deadline and collecting assets instead of letting him walk for free may be the best option. Trading Wilson will also save the Dolphins $3.8 million against the cap and they’ll take on just $1.3 million in dead money.

Devante Parker

Parker’s career has been plagued by injury since he was drafted by Miami in 2015. In 2019, Parker was healthy for all 16 games and put up 1,202 yards and 9 touchdowns. It seemed like a breakout year and his career was reaching the tipping point. In 2020 though, he missed 2 games due to a hamstring injury, which has been an issue for the majority of his career. He still put up respectable numbers with 793 yards and 4 touchdowns. 

Through the first 4 games of this season, Parker was a key part of the offense with 17 catches for 242 yards and 1 touchdown. Unfortunately, he has missed the last 3 games and is in danger of missing his fourth straight this Sunday in Buffalo.

Parker’s inability to stay healthy may be the driving force to trade him. According to reports, the Dolphins have discussed trading Parker. 

There have also been talks about Parker not being fully committed to football. Nagging injuries can take a toll on a player, and it wouldn’t be shocking if Parker is growing increasingly frustrated.

A trade would give Parker a fresh start to his career which is something he probably needs.

For Miami, a Parker trade would clear cap space for the 2022 season. The Dolphins are projected to have the most cap space in 2022. However, only 19 players from the current roster are under contract for next season. The cap availability is going to diminish rapidly and they need money to re-sign big money players like Mike Gesicki and Emmanuel Ogbah.

Miami may try to trade for an offensive line piece, collect assets for next year, or both at once. Regardless, the Dolphins wide receiver room needs to be monitored with just 4 days until the trade deadline. 

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Would We See the Same Justin Herbert in Miami?

Credit: Oregon Live

It is very clear that Los Angeles Chargers QB Justin Herbert is the real deal. Through five games this year, he’s thrown for 1,576 yards, and 13 touchdowns to just 3 interceptions.

Herbert’s recent play and Tagovailoa’s injury have led to people questioning whether Miami drafted the wrong player.

If Miami drafted Herbert, would we see the same Justin Herbert in Miami?

Pre-Draft

Before Tagovailoa suffered a severe hip injury, most scouts and draft experts had him as the consensus first pick. In 2019 the plan was obvious, Miami assembled their roster to fail.

They were going to have a high pick in the 2020 draft, and most people had believed since the start of the rebuild that the Dolphins were aiming to select Tagovailoa. The phrase “Tank For Tua” was seen all over social media and had even been mentioned in National media.

The local Miami media was calling the Dolphins to “Tank For Tua” on the second day of 2019.

Tagovailoa being the consensus QB1 wasn’t without reason either. He threw for 7,442 yards, a completion rate of almost 70%, and 87 touchdowns to just 11 interceptions.

Tua is the quarterback who took over for Nick Saban’s team at halftime in the National Championship game and led a comeback win in OT to beat Georgia as a freshman. The hype around Tagovailoa was warranted.

After Tagovailoa suffered a near career ending-injury and LSU QB Joe Burrow broke NCAA records, most people began to fall in love with Burrow as their QB1. However, Tagovailoa was still QB1 for some people. For everyone else, he was QB2 at worst. No one had Justin Herbert higher than QB3. 

Heading into the draft, it was clear the Cincinnati Bengals were going to select Joe Burrow with the first pick. It was very likely that Miami was going to select Tua Tagovailoa, which would have left the LA Chargers to “settle” for Justin Herbert.

With draft season many smokescreens are sent into the media. The Dolphins set smokescreens to cause chaos and uncertainty among other teams, many did not know if they wanted Herbert or Tagovailoa; however, some knew Tua would be the pick.

Rumored Disagreement

A recent article by DolphinsNation.Com stated that Brian Flores wanted to draft Justin Herbert.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard this though. Over the last year, people in the National Media would speculate that there was discourse in the Dolphins Organization and not a unanimous decision on the right pick at QB.

Brian Flores has spoken in support of Tagovailoa numerous times and emphasized how he feels about Tua’s leadership and ability.

The right pick?

Hindsight is always 2020. If you told Chris Grier and Brian Flores that Justin Herbert would win OROY last year and be in MVP conversations after 5 weeks in his second season, I’m sure they’d have selected Herbert.

Unfortunately that’s not how it works. Really that’s not how anything in life works. Hindsight is always 2020, and you have to work with what you have.

Again, Justin Herbert is an amazing quarterback. He’s reached Star status after just 20 games and is being compared to Miami Dolphins Hall of Famer Dan Marino. 

He’s doing it all well right now.

Is he Dan Marino level already? No. He looks like he could be though.

The point is, saying “Miami drafted the wrong QB” isn’t fair or true. At the time, most people would agree that Tagovailoa was the better prospect and a better pick at 5th overall than Herbert. 

Herbert is going to be a great QB in the league for years to come. This does not mean that Tua can not be a good QB. Tagovailoa has 12 games to prove he’s the guy in Miami.

Contextualization

Let’s get one thing clear. It is by no means a safe assumption that Justin Herbert would have the same success in Miami. 

The system in Miami is different, the offensive line is the worst in the league, and the offensive coaching staff is a mystery, and the WR corp has the highest drop percentage in the league since last year. 

Through five games, Jacoby Brissett and Tua Tagovailoa have been sacked 16 times. That number would be a lot higher if Jacoby Brissett didn’t use his superhuman strength to avoid sacks. Justin Herbert has only been sacked 9 times. In week 4, the Dolphins allowed 2 sacks but a whopping 11 pressures. 

That clip sums up the Dolphins OL performance through the first 5 weeks of the season. 

This season, the Chargers of Los Angeles have a top-10 OL.

The offensive line’s performance has a huge impact on QB play, and there is a drastic difference between the Miami OL and the LAC OL.

Career Path

Since Herbert and Tagovailoa arrived, they’ve had different paths to reach where they are today. After taking over for an injured Tyrod Taylor in week 2 last year, Herbert played well enough to earn the starting job. It was his team going forward and there was no doubt he was the starter.

In Miami, Tagovailoa took over after the Dolphins bye week with the team sitting at 3-3. Unfortunately, it’s been rumored that Chan Gailey did not agree with the decision. Downfield success was clearly an issue when Tagovailoa. Clearly the playbook was limited for Tagovailoa.

The Dolphins were also in playoff contention last year. In games where Tagovailoa was managing the game but not doing enough to win the game, Brian Flores pulled him in favor of veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick went 1-1 in his save attempts.

Having a veteran QB who was clearly unhappy with his benching looking over Tua’s shoulder probably was far from the best case scenario.

This year, the Dolphins have two offensive coordinators and a QB coach who all have a part in the play-calling. Similar to playing “telephone” in elementary school, it never ends how you want it to. Tagovailoa is already on his 2nd and 3rd offensive coordinators in just his second year. 

Lastly, playmakers and supporting cast were a big issue for Tagovailoa and the Dolphins offense. In just week 17 alone, the Dolphins had 13 dropped passes. There were games in which Tagovailoa’s starting wide receivers were Antonio Callaway and Mack Hollins. Callaway isn’t with the team, and Hollins is primarily a special teams player. 

Herbert on the other hand had Mike Williams, Keenan Allen, Hunter Henry, Austin Ekeler for a little more than half the season.

These are by no means an excuse for the underwhelming start to Tagovailoa’s career. Last year, they were valid reasons. To say Herbert would be having the same start to his career in Miami as he is in Los Angeles is almost laughable.

Herbert is an excellent player and will be for years to come, but his supporting cast, coaching staff, and improved offensive line are all due credit.

The Future

It’s clear that Tagovailoa isn’t as physically gifted as Herbert. He’s smaller and doesn’t have as strong of an arm. That does not mean he can’t be a great quarterback in the NFL going forward. 

Tagovailoa is in Miami and we can’t change that. He has shown flashes of potential. He will need to rely on his weapons to become the player we think he can be.

Herbert is a stud. Tagovailoa can still become really good. Both can be true. Sitting here and saying Miami chose the wrong player is a useless and untrue(at the time) conversation to have. 

Tagovailoa makes his return from IR this Sunday in London and hopes to make his presence felt over the next 12 games of the season.

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The Deshaun Watson-Miami Dolphins Saga

Deshaun Watson Miami Dolphins Saga
Credit: Miami Herald

The Build Up

The Deshaun Watson-Miami Dolphins Saga started nine months ago when he officially requested a trade out of Houston. Since January 28th, the Dolphins have been rumored to be interested in the Pro Bowl QB.

Miami was heavily discussed among the national media when Watson’s preferred destinations became public and Miami was first on that list. The media questioned whether Chris Grier and Brian Flores believed in Tua Tagovailoa. They also thought Stephen Ross was pressing for Watson. Maybe it was everyone in the organization wanting Watson because he gave the team a better chance to compete for a Super Bowl now rather than a year or two later.

Everything became a lot more complicated in the spring, though. Between March 16th and April 14th, Deshaun Watson was accused of sexual assault and harrassment by 23 different women. Many expected Watson to be placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List until his legal matter was sorted out, but that didn’t happen(and still hasn’t). This would have shutdown trade talk as he wouldn’t have been able to play for the time being. 

The Watson to Miami rumors continued throughout the offseason, but finally cooled down a few weeks before the season started.

Well, that was until August 29th. Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports reported that the Miami Dolphins were frontrunners to land Deshaun Watson. The NFL world picked up right where they left off, debating what it would take for Miami to land Watson.

The Latest Updates

Over the first three weeks, talks about Watson to Miami had decreased again.

This time, it was Jay Glazer who dropped big news. On September 29th, Glazer tweeted Miami is still the most likely landing spot.

Glazer never said a deal was sure to get done. He just said that if a deal were to happen, Miami is the likeliest to make it happen. He then doubled down, telling fans to “keep an eye on this situation.” 

On September 30th, Alex Donno suggested a trade was very likely to happen and said Monday is the day it will get done.

Josina Anderson reported similar news soon after.

All of this could just be speculation and smokescreening. Alex Donno’s source is someone close to Nick Caserio. Could that be Caserio trying to drive up the asking price? There are way too many scenarios at this point to know what’s going to happen with Watson.

Is Watson an Upgrade over Tua Right Now?

Whether Watson would be an upgrade over Tua Tagovailoa at this point in time doesn’t seem to be much of a debate. Deshaun Watson has proven to be one of the best QB’s in the league when healthy and playing. 

Watson is a 3x Pro Bowler who has only improved as his career goes on. Last year, Watson threw for 4,823 yards and 33 touchdowns to just 7 interceptions. Watson is also a significant threat with his legs. Over the equivalent of 3.5 seasons, Watson has 1,677 yards on the ground and 17 touchdowns. 

The numbers and play speak for themselves. Watson can be a franchise QB for years to come.

Does this mean Tua Tagovailoa is a bust? No. Does it mean Tua can not become what Watson is? Also no. 

But at this point in time, Watson is a better QB than Tagovailoa. For that reason it’s understandable why Miami, or any team, would be doing their due diligence on Watson.

Unfortunately, it isn’t that simple and there are numerous risks involved.

Potential Risks of Bringing Deshaun Watson to the Miami Dolphins

There are numerous significant risks involved for the Miami Dolphins. Most of the risks all branch from one main issue: 23 sexual assault allegations.

  1. If Deshaun Watson is traded to the Miami Dolphins, his allegations will not disappear. Although he is able to play right now, it’s possible he’s placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List after a trade is made. This would make him ineligible to play. Yes, Miami would negotiate something in the deal that would void the trade if he isn’t able to play a snap; however, it’s a risk nonetheless.
  2. Since he isn’t already on the Exempt List, it could be fair to assume he won’t be placed on it until at least the end of this year. Assuming Watson can play immediately, he’d play 13 games at the most this year. After this season, his legal situation may still be undecided and put next seasons status in question.
  3. Miami would be giving up a lot of assets to secure Watson. According to the most recent reports, the Texans are asking for 3 first-round picks and 3 other assets. Those three other assets would likely be a variation of second and third round picks. Giving up 6 draft picks that could be used to build a deep team would be a major risk for an organization that seems to be headed in the right direction after 20 years of mediocrity.
  4. There’s also a risk from the long-term POV. If Tagovailoa develops into the QB we all know he is capable of being next year, this move will be questioned for years to come due to the amount Miami will have given up. Of course, it’s a risk in and of itself betting on Tua to reach a great level. However, from long-term, giving up 6 high picks and letting Tua become a great QB on another team would make the Watson move seem unnecessary in retrospect. The Dolphins are in year 2 of a rebuild, and don’t need to force success right now. They have time to see if Tagovailoa can develop into who they think he’s capable of being. 
  5. Innocent until proven guilty is a thing. At this moment, Deshaun Watson is innocent. But when a person has 23 allegations of sexual assault, giving up 6 picks and likely giving up on Tua Tagovailoa may not be a great look for the organization. Obviously, if Watson comes to Miami, the legal issues go away, and he wins, then all will be peaceful. But now, trading for him would reflect poorly on the organization.

Are the Risks Worth the Reward?

If someone told the Miami Dolphins management and staff that Deshaun Watson would constantly be top-5 QB in the league and the Dolphins would be Super Bowl Contenders for at least the next 10 years, they’d absolutely pull the trigger. They’d probably do it for more than “just” six picks.

Unfortunately, as I explained above, it isn’t that simple. 

When taking into account what Miami will have to give up, the backlash they’d face, and the fact that Watson’s legal matters are far from complete, a trade to Miami does not make sense.

In 2019, the Dolphins stripped their entire roster and were assembled to fail. The end goal was to have a high enough draft pick to select Tua Tagovailoa. They did exactly that. He started 9 games and went 6-3. 

This past offseason, the Dolphins added playmakers on the offense for Tua. They drafted Jaylen Waddle and signed Will Fuller. The Dolphins also named Charlie Frye their QB Coach. Frye has worked with Tua since high school. Co-OC’s George Godsey and Eric Studesville designed an offense to fit Tagovailoa that is RPO based. This offense allows him to use his accuracy and quick decision making to move the ball.

It’s been almost 18 months since Tagovailoa was drafted. He’s started 10 games, and won 7 of them. The organization has built around Tua as if he is the man of the future.

Risking the last 18 months of work and giving up a plethora of valuable future assets for a QB with an uncertain legal matter seems very dangerous. The reward would be huge(so would the price for that reward), but as of now, the risk is bigger.

Overall

We in the public have no clue what’s going to happen. We have heard this rumor more times than I can recall at this point. If it’s going to happen, it may get done as soon as Monday. But we’ve heard this so many times, it’s likely the same this time. Houston smokescreens, media narratives, and fan impatience seem to be driving this discussion more than anything.

Trading for Watson would require Miami to give up substantial future assets, be extremely confident that the legal matters will have absolutely no further impact on his NFL career, and likely mean giving up on Tua Tagovailoa.

That seems like a costly price to pay for anyone. 

The Dolphins should stick with Tua Tagovailoa and give him the opportunity to lead the team to the finish line this year. If they are displeased and ready to make a move, maybe Watson’s situation will have more clarity in the offseason. At that point, Houston may reach the point of trading him for far less than what they’re asking now.

At this point, it makes no sense for the Miami Dolphins to trade for Deshaun Watson.

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Recap: Miami Dolphins defeated their AFC East Rival

Credit: NBC Sports

On Sunday, the Miami Dolphins defeated their AFC East rival New England Patriots in their season opener. Last season, Miami lost their week 1 matchup in New England. This year, after barely missing the playoffs 9 months ago, they needed to get off to a fast start.

They got the job done. No one expected a pretty, high-scoring game. It was expected that it would be a defensive dog fight until the end, and that’s exactly what happened. A game that consisted of three turnovers and six punts ended in a 17-16 victory for the Dolphins.

OFFENSE

On the first play from scrimmage, Tua Tagovailoa hit rookie WR Jaylen Waddle for a gain of 17 on an RPO. RPO’s were a huge part of the Dolphins offense on Sunday.

Although the run game struggled a bit, Myles Gaskin had a 15 yard carry on that drive as well. The drive ended with a 3-yard TD run from Tua on an RPO. 

Unfortunately for Miami, the offense cooled off and punted three straight times. A big part of that was inconsistency from the offensive line. 

The Dolphins put together another good drive on their final possession of the first half. On the first play of the drive, Tagovailoa found Jaylen Waddle down the left sideline for a gain of 36-yards. They put together an 8-play 45-yard drive and let Pro Bowl kicker Jason Sanders tie the game 10-10 going into half.

On the very first drive after halftime, Miami faced a big 3rd & 8. The offense stepped up and Tua Tagovailoa threw a strike to Devante Parker for 30-yards. 

That gave Miami life, and the drive ended in Jaylen Waddle’s first career touchdown catch.

One of Miami’s most crucial drives resulted in 0 points. When Xavien Howard forced a fumble and gave Miami the ball back with 3:31 to go, the game wasn’t over. The Dolphins were at their own 9-yard line and had to drain more than 3 minutes off the clock to secure the win. That isn’t easy, especially against Bill Belichick. After a holding, they faced a 1st & 14 at their own 5. Tua delivered a strike to Devante Parker who picked up 13-yards. 

The Dolphins secured the win when short yard specialist and former Patriots SB Champion Jacoby Brissett took a QB sneak for 2-yards.

The Dolphins offense wasn’t always the prettiest on Sunday, but they stepped up when they needed to. 

Offensive Positives:

  • Once again, Devante Parker proved that when he’s healthy, he can be a huge part of the Miami Dolphins offense.
  • The Miami Dolphins have a plan for Jaylen Waddle. He was used in pre snap motion, and caught passes all over the field. 
  • Rookie Liam Eichenberg was a solid starter at LT in place of Austin Jackson.

Offensive Negatives:

  • The run game was inconsistent. Miami averaged just 3.2 YPC.
  • The offensive line was inconsistent. They showed they are very capable on some plays, but on others, it was a serious issue.
  • Tua Tagovailoa looked to be slightly uneasy when the pocket collapsed fast around him, but that shouldn’t raise any eyebrows at this point.

Defense

Knowing they were going to have to step up and be a big part of the reason Miami wins, the defense did just that.

On the first play from scrimmage, Miami was gashed by Damien Harris on a 35-yard carry. They bounced back and Christian Wilkins caused a Mac Jones fumble. The Patriots were taken out of field goal range and forced to punt.

On the ensuing possession, they did what they do best. They forced a turnover. Sunday’s game was Miami’s 23rd straight game with a takeaway. 

The Dolphins bend but don’t break defense and allowed a Patriots field goal, but held up very well in the redzone.

On the next drive, the Dolphins allowed their first touchdown of the season. All Dolphins fans will agree, this should have ended in a field goal at best. On 3rd & 1, Elandon Roberts sacked Mac Jones for a loss of 12, but was flagged for a questionable roughing the passer. The Patriots ended up scoring. 

The defense allowed two more field goal drives, but their best sequence came on New England’s final possession of the day.

The Patriots took over at the 50-yard line down by 1. After a 4:36 drive, they had a 1st & 10 at Miami’s 11-yard line. The Dolphins were on the verge of losing in New England, again. That’s when Xavien Howard happened. Damien Harris ran up the middle and the Dolphins star cornerback forced a fumble. Miami recovered

Defensive Positives:

  • Xavien Howard. They reworked his contract to bring him back this summer, and he forced and recovered the game-sealing fumble
  • Rookie Jevon Holland played less than 50% of defensive snaps, but was great when he was on the field. He was ranked PFF’s highest rated rookie.
  • The Dolphins didn’t miss many tackles. Missed tackles have been a major issue in the past, and they were much improved on Sunday.

Defensive negatives:

  • The Dolphins lack of pass rush was concerning at times. Letting Josh Allen stand in the pocket for what feels like an hour on Sunday could be a disaster.
  • The Dolphins run defense, which has been an issue in the past, was an issue on Sunday. The defense allowed over 4 YPC.
  • The Dolphins heavily relied on zone coverage when most of their cornerbacks are tremendous man to man players. Whether it was a lack of trust in the linebackers to cover, or an effort to make Mac Jones play checkdown football, it’s something to monitor.

Overall

The Dolphins in previous years would’ve found a way to lose this game. The team played complimentary football and beat a Belicheck coached team in New England to open the season. Improvmets need to be made, but the Dolphins are 1-0 and off to a good start.

Practice Squad and Covid List Moves in Miami

Credit: Sports Mockery

The Dolphins were in the news early on Labor Day. LT Austin Jackson and TE Adam Shaheen were placed on the Covid-19/reserve list this morning. The Dolphins also made a number of adjustments to the practice squad.

Practice Squad Moves

WR Isaiah Ford was signed to the Dolphins practice squad. After his release last week, it seemed like it was only a matter of time until he was back in aqua and orange. Ford is familiar with the Dolphins organization having spent most of his career in South Florida. He will be a good piece for Miami to keep around.

Carl Tucker joined the practice squad this morning as well. He spent the entire offseason with Miami but was released last week during the final wave of cuts. In a year where players can be lost due to COVID, the Dolphins want players who have spent time with the team. 

Tino Ellis was released from the practice to make room for these moves.

CB Jamal Perry was activated to the roster. He is available to play as a replacement, per Barry Jackson.

Official Practice Squad

The Dolphins released their complete practice squad roster this morning. Practice Squads are normally made up of 16 players. In Miami’s case, they are able to keep 17. With IPP Pathway player Durval Queiroz Neto, Miami gets an extra player exemption.

Out of 17 players, 13 were a part of the Dolphins preseason roster. 

It would make sense that the Dolphins want to keep familiar faces around during a season in which COVID-19 could disrupt some plans. As a matter of fact, the Dolphins are dealing with COVID-19 issues just 6 days before their season opener.

COVID-19 LIST

This morning, LT Austin Jackson and TE Adam Shaheen were placed on the COVID-19 reserve list. 

Due to the NFL’s COVID-19 policies for unvaccinated players, Shaheen will be unable to play in Sunday’s game in New England. Per NFL and NFLPA policy, Shaheen will miss at least 10 days. 

With Shaheen missing time, it opens the door for rookie TE Hunter Long.

Although it is unknown whether Jackson is vaccinated, he may still be available for Sunday’s game, indicating he is. 

If Jackson is unable to play, recently traded for OT Greg Little could get the start at LT. Brian Flores said they will try multiple combinations on the OL this week in practice before deciding the starting OL for Sunday’s game. Although Jackson can still play, the Dolphins will prepare as if he won’t be available.

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