Last week, ESPN collected a panel of analysts to address some of the “biggest questions” heading into 2019. They are continuing to add to the questions they are answering, but several of the first answers have hit upon the Miami Dolphins - or players that are currently members of the Dolphins.
Taking a look at some of the questions and answers from the ESPN article, we can see what the panel thinks could happen for Miami this year.
Question: If free-agent QB Teddy Bridgewater isn’t in New Orleans in Week 1, he’ll be in ______.
Mike Triplett, Saints reporter: Miami. If it were solely up to Bridgewater, he should want the Giants. He could thrive right away with all of that offensive talent in New York, and he’s familiar with coach Pat Shurmur from their time together in Minnesota. But that works only if the Giants are ready to cut Eli Manning, which is a huge “if” at this point. So I’ll go with Bridgewater’s hometown Dolphins, who are even more likely to add a veteran quarterback and showed some interest in him last year. Either way, I expect Bridgewater to sign a short-term deal so he can try to increase his value by succeeding on the field -- and maybe have more options available the next time around, including a possible return to New Orleans.
Mike Clay, fantasy writer: Miami. New coach Brian Flores and offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea will be looking to overhaul the roster, and the rebuild figures to start at quarterback. If Ryan Tannehill is cut loose, Bridgewater would make sense as a short-term (and potential long-term) fix. Offering competition in the form of a trade (Jacoby Brissett?) or draft selection also would make sense.
There is a lot of talk about Bridgewater being a bridge (no pun intended) quarterback for the Dolphins as they look to find their eventual franchise quarterback, and it could make a lot of sense. Miami is thought to be looking toward 2020 to find their rookie quarterback and Bridgewater, who will turn 27 during the season, could be a starter for a few years if not locking down the position for several years. He has potential and that is what the Dolphins would be buying if they sign him.
I am not completely convinced the Dolphins are in the market for Bridgewater, but he is definitely a player that needs to be considered if he does hit the open market.
Design a realistic offseason trade that helps both teams:
Clay: Dolphins trade WR DeVante Parker to Colts for QB Jacoby Brissett. Both players will be unrestricted free agents after the 2019 season. Parker would get a fresh start and add size to the perimeter opposite T.Y. Hilton in Indianapolis. Brissett, buried on the depth chart behind Andrew Luck, would have an opportunity to compete for a starting job in Miami. New Dolphins coach Brian Flores and offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea were both on the New England staff when the Patriots drafted Brissett in 2016.
Kevin Seifert, national NFL writer: Dolphins trade CB Xavien Howard to Raiders for No. 24 overall draft pick. The Raiders have three first-round picks, making coach Jon Gruden more likely to move one of them. It might sound crazy for the Dolphins to trade a Pro Bowl cornerback before he turns 26, but they appear headed toward a rebuild and Howard is arguably their most valuable asset. Trading him now also would allow the Dolphins to avoid paying the massive contract extension Howard is likely to get in the next year.
I understand the idea of trading Parker for Brissett. The Dolphins move on from a wide receiver who has struggled with injuries and never live up to his first-round draft pick, along with unload his $9.4 million salary for the 2019 season without having to rescind his fifth-year option. It also bring Brissett to Miami - where he could compete with Bridgewater if that signing happens - and, as Clay suggested, reunites him with coaches that were with the New England Patriots when Brissett was signed. The Dolphins would add about $7 million in cap space in the trade.
I also know there are several people who see Howard as an asset the Dolphins could use in a trade, but I just cannot get behind that move. You have to rebuild your defense, with a defensive minded head coach, and you have a Pro Bowl talent cornerback who led the league in interceptions and is just hitting his prime. You are going to be saving money over the next several years with a rookie quarterback - some of that money can go to keeping Howard with the Dolphins, even if it is a “massive” extension that is needed to make it happen. Adding a second first-round pick is always a great thing, especially when you are turning a 2016 second-round pick into a 2019 first-round choice, but it just seems like a move that (a) adds to Miami’s needs on defense when there are already plenty of holes and (b) trades away one of the key building blocks for the team at a critical position. I do not like this idea, even if it is to land a first-round pick.
Who will be the Jaguars’ starting QB in Week 1 next season?
Clay: Ryan Tannehill. Like most, I believe the Jaguars need to find a veteran who can compete with a first-round rookie quarterback. Once released by Miami -- which the front office has hinted at -- Tannehill will offer the Jaguars a conservative passer whose job it will be to “shorten” games for a terrific defense by avoiding turnovers and handing the ball off to Leonard Fournette as often as possible. Oh, and Tannehill will get to stay in Florida.
This move would make a ton of sense and is one of my two favorites of a landing spot for Tannehill. The Dolphins seem to be set on moving on from their 2012 first-round pick, but he is still a very capable starting quarterback in the league. He needs a lot of things around him to be right, but that does not mean he cannot go somewhere and find success. I think Jacksonville or the Washington Redskins make the most sense, with the New York Giants a close third.
Which team should be the early favorite to pick No. 1 overall in the 2020 draft?
Matt Bowen, NFL writer: Dolphins. I’ve been through a coaching change as a player in the NFL, and that transition can be rough, especially for a team such as Miami with a limited roster, plus an expected change coming at quarterback. Look for the Dolphins to hit the reset button in 2019 as they turn over the locker room and build a new identity.
Clay: Dolphins. Quarterback uncertainty? Check. Overhauled coaching staff? Check. Holes on the offensive line? Check. Uninspiring offensive skill position players? Check. Multiple defensive voids (especially in the front seven)? Check. Minimal cap space? You guessed it -- check. This franchise has a lot of work to do this offseason to avoid plummeting in the standings.
KC Joyner, fantasy writer: Dolphins. Adam Gase was the subject of a lot of jokes in his first news conference with the Jets, but let’s not forget that he got fired despite getting seven wins out of a Dolphins team that has three- or four-win-caliber talent. Add that to the transition woes inherent under a new coach, and the bottom is likely to drop out on Miami in 2019.
Mike Sando, senior NFL writer: Dolphins. They are willingly entering a rebuilding phase without a difference-making quarterback and without especially high draft choices. They were one of two teams (the Cardinals were the other) to finish 2018 with zero games in which both their offense and defense were at least average in ESPN’s efficiency metrics. Miami lost five games by at least 17 points (only Arizona lost more of those, with six).
This will be a popular pick all year, as there is plenty of talk about the Dolphins “tanking” this season - and if you do not think I hate that word, please read this. The Dolphins have more talent on the roster than I think people realize, in large part because most of it spent at least some of last year injured if not on injured reserve. I do think they are going to have a bad year - and that is why the team is allowing the “tanking” narrative to continue - and they are going to have that bad year because it is a reset year. That could keep them in the running for the first overall pick, but I do not think they are a lock for it. Maybe that is me being hopeful, but we will see.
One interesting former Dolphins link in the questions was “Where will Le’Veon Bell be playing in 2019?” Four of the nine respondents to the questions indicated they think he will be playing with the New York Jets and former Dolphins head coach Adam Gase, who takes over as the Jets head coach this season. After spending the 2018 season trying to get the culture in Miami to reflect his desires, would Gase agree to a running back such as Bell? Gase does not have as much power in New York as he had with the Dolphins, but that still does not mean a running back - especially one as talented as and as expensive as Bell - should be forced upon him if he does not agree that Bell would fit his system. That said, Bell could be a perfect fit for Gase, especially as he gives up on the run during a game and Bell could be used more as a receiver. It would be an interesting play for New York and Gase.