The Miami Dolphins didn’t land a package deal deal of Tom Brady and Sean Payton this offseason, and the NFL got here down laborious on them for making an attempt, docking the club a 2023 first-round pick along with additional punishment. With Tua Tagovailoa heading right into a make-or-break season, Miami’s 2023 draft capital — the ammunition they’d must probably discover one other quarterback — has been considerably decreased.
Dolphins’ 2023 QB choices restricted following lack of first-round decide
The NFL took away the Dolphins’ 2024 third-round decide — and fined and suspended membership executives, together with proprietor Stephen Ross — following its six-month tampering investigation, however Miami’s lack of a 2023 first-rounder will clearly hit the toughest.
The Dolphins beforehand owned two first-round picks in subsequent yr’s draft (each theirs and the 49ers’). Miami will lose its personal choice on account of the league-imposed self-discipline, not San Francisco’s, no matter which decide finally ends up larger within the draft.
Lacking out on that further first-round decide has the potential to upend Miami’s 2023 quarterback plans. The prevailing narrative is that the Dolphins will use the upcoming marketing campaign to guage Tagovailoa underneath new head coach Mike McDaniel. If Tua doesn’t present drastic indicators of enchancment in his third NFL season, Miami might look elsewhere underneath heart.
It’s been difficult to guage Tua’s professional efficiency to this point. He entered the league with a extreme hip damage suffered at Alabama, and since being on the sphere in Miami, he’s been compelled to play behind offensive traces that ranked among the many NFL’s worst. Additional accidents have clouded Tagovailoa’s manufacturing and blurred his long-term standing with the Dolphins.
This offseason, Miami seemingly got down to guarantee Tua would have each likelihood to reach 2023. Along with hiring an offensive whiz in McDaniel, the Dolphins acquired and prolonged All-Professional huge receiver Tyreek Hill, pairing him with 2021 rookie standout Jaylen Waddle in a revamped passing assault. Miami additionally introduced in former Cowboy Cedrick Wilson Jr. to fill their WR3 void and used the franchise tag on tight finish Mike Gesicki.
The Dolphins added working backs Chase Edmonds, Raheem Mostert, and Sony Michel to a new-look backfield, and so they invested alongside the offensive line. Terron Armstead, one of many league’s greatest tackles, will take over on the left aspect, whereas Connor Williams will slot in at heart.
Supplied he stays wholesome, we should always lastly see the true Tua — for higher or worse. If he succeeds, Tagovailoa ought to be in line for an enormous extension at $45 million per yr or extra. If he fails, the Dolphins should discover their choices, and that lack of an extra first-round decide will show vital.
The Dolphins are counting on the 49ers being unhealthy in 2023
By buying San Francisco’s 2023 first-round decide, the Dolphins gave themselves each further draft capital and optionality. If wanted, they might have packaged these picks collectively and moved up in a 2023 draft that can characteristic much more QB expertise than 2022.
How excessive might Miami have moved up? Properly, all of it is determined by the place their and San Francisco’s choices landed subsequent yr. Within the Dolphins’ case, they’d solely be looking for a brand new signal-caller if Tagovailoa struggled within the upcoming season. For the needs of this dialogue, let’s think about Miami would have completed 7-10 in 2022 and ended up with the twelfth total decide within the 2023 draft.
The 49ers, in the meantime, are anticipated to contend once more subsequent season, at the same time as de facto rookie quarterback Trey Lance figures issues out. DraftKings has San Francisco’s win whole pegged at 10. Something might occur if the 49ers make it to the playoffs, however let’s say SF would have ended up with the twenty second choice in subsequent yr’s draft.
In his most recent 2023 mock draft, PFN’s Cam Mellor projected 4 quarterbacks — Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, Alabama’s Bryce Younger, Kentucky’s Will Levis, and South Carolina’s Spencer Rattler — to come back off the board throughout the high 10. However no different signal-callers had been chosen within the the rest of the primary spherical. Miami possible would have been compelled to commerce as much as land one in every of subsequent yr’s elite passers.
Based on each the Fitzgerald-Spielberger draft value chart and Chase Stuart of Football Perspective’s knowledge, the Dolphins might have packaged their projected early first-round decide and the 49ers’ mid-to-late first-rounder to maneuver up all the best way to No. 1 total.
Commerce-ups for quarterbacks all the time come at a premium, so it won’t be fairly practical to say Miami might have discovered itself on the very high of the draft. However even the basic Jimmy Johnson trade chart, which severely overvalues early first-round picks and locations much less emphasis on mid-first-rounders, thinks the Dolphins might have moved as much as the third or fourth total choice.
As a substitute, Miami now has to hope and pray that San Francisco struggles and misses the postseason subsequent yr. The Dolphins want the 49ers’ first-round decide to be pushed up as excessive as attainable. In any other case, normal supervisor Chris Grier should think about buying and selling future belongings — the alternative of his team-building plan so far — to maneuver up for a quarterback in 2023.
Might the Dolphins pursue a veteran quarterback in 2023?
Miami has already tried to exchange Tua twice, each with Brady and Deshaun Watson, so it in all probability gained’t take a lot for the membership to maneuver on from the 24-year-old. If the Dolphins notice that they don’t have sufficient draft capital to safe a high rookie subsequent yr, they might conceivably flip to the veteran market searching for a greater choice.
The one downside? The free agent quarterback options in 2023 are severely missing. Certain, Brady can be a free agent, however it appears inconceivable that Miami will go down that street once more. Except the Ravens in some way let Lamar Jackson get away (they gained’t), one of the best accessible QBs can be Jimmy Garoppolo, Baker Mayfield, and Daniel Jones — all passers that might have been (or might nonetheless be) acquired for subsequent to nothing this offseason.
Quarterback trades have been all the fashion in recent times, however there gained’t be a Matthew Stafford or Russell Wilson-esque QB accessible subsequent March. Now that the Cardinals have extended Kyler Murray, Derek Carr and Kirk Cousins are in all probability one of the best quarterbacks that might be dangled in commerce talks in 2023. Carr and Cousins are above-average QBs, however they’re not top-10 players at the position. They’d each signify an improve, however they wouldn’t solidify Miami underneath heart for the following decade.
The Dolphins’ best-case state of affairs in 2022? Tagovailoa blossoms underneath McDaniel’s tutelage and at last fulfills the promise that he confirmed as a nationwide champion at Alabama. As well as, the 49ers and Lance battle, giving Miami an early-first-round choice within the 2023 draft for use at a place aside from QB.
Worst case? Tua both will get damage once more or definitively exhibits that he’s not a franchise QB. On the identical time, San Francisco makes a deep playoff run, leaving the Dolphins with a decide on the tail finish of the primary spherical and few choices to rectify their long-standing quarterback downside.