The Miami Dolphins head into their 2017 season finale eliminated from the playoffs and hoping only to play spoiler as they face their AFC East division rival Buffalo Bills. They also could use the game as a chance to get playing time and experience for some of the players further down the depth chart. According to a report from the Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero, that is the exact plan when it comes to quarterback David Fales.
Salguero explains the Dolphins have given Fales first team reps during practice this week, with head coach Adam Gase holding the option to play Fales during the game. The Dolphins want to know if Fales can be the team’s backup quarterback next year, serving as the second-string passer behind starter Ryan Tannehill. Fales cannot claim the role based on one limited appearance in Week 17 of a season, but he could give himself a better chance to return to the team in training camp next year and earn the job then.
Salguero points out that the Dolphins are still looking to win Sunday’s game and that Jay Cutler, who was signed this year to replace Tannehill when a knee injury ended the sixth-year quarterback’s season during training camp, will start the game and Gase is not looking to bench Cutler. The team just wants to see if Fales, who has thrown six passes in the league since being a sixth-round pick of the Chicago Bears in 2014, can have a larger role next season.
The Dolphins are not likely to keep Cutler in 2018, with the almost retired quarterback coming back to the league this year only to replace Tannehill and saying this week that he would only play again next year as a starter. They likely will not keep Matt Moore, the current second-string quarterback, who has been with the team since 2011. They could look to the Draft next year to find their backup quarterback, selecting a player they can develop behind Tannehill. They could also look to free agency to find a player. They do also have Brandon Doughty, the team’s seventh-round pick in 2016, on the practice squad and could re-sign him for next year as an option as well.
Whatever the Dolphins decide to do at backup quarterback in 2018, the evaluations could start as early as Sunday.