The Miami Dolphins are pondering a full-scale rebuild that could mean fewer wins in the 2019 season but a shot at one of the top quarterbacks in the 2020 draft, ESPN reported Sunday. Per the report, the Dolphins know their roster is far from where they want it to be, and they "recognize that losing likely will be a part of next season," as they look to improve the offensive and defensive lines. A poor 2019 season could put Miami in position to draft highly regarded quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa of Alabama or Justin Herbert of Oregon.
Herbert could have declared for the 2019 draft but decided to return to school, while Tagovailoa won't be eligible to declare until the 2020 draft. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross was candid about the possibility of a rebuild during his season-ending press conference, after firing head coach Adam Gase. "We've been operating under a philosophy that we had a good young roster, and it needed maybe free agents and draft choices and we'd be very competitive," Ross said. "To keep operating under that philosophy would be like the definition of insanity: doing the same thing and really expecting a different result. "...Basically, the thought is we're going to look to really build this organization based on our needs, and if it takes a year or so -- two years, three years -- we're going to be there and we're going to be an organization."
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill -- who has missed 24 games over the last three seasons due to injury -- is reportedly not in the team's long-term plans, but it's unclear if the Dolphins intend to move on this offseason. General manager Chris Grier was noncommittal at his season-ending press conference about Tannehill's status. "Yeah, as of right now, he's on the roster," Grier replied when asked if Tannehill would be back in 2019. "Again, the next head coach is going to come in and he'll evaluate the roster as well. So we'll work through that once that guy is hired." If not for a restructure of Tannehill's contract last March, Miami would be able to release him with no cap implications, but it would now incur a dead-money hit of $13.4 million by releasing him.
Still, that would represent a savings of $13.2 million from his $26.2 million cap number for 2019. The Dolphins could spread that dead-money hit out over two seasons (about $7.9 million in 2019 and $6.6 million in 2020) by releasing Tannehill with a June 1 designation. Miami is expected to hire New England Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores once the Patriots' season is over. Most teams give new head coaches four-year contracts with a fifth-year team option, but the San Francisco 49ers -- entering a full-scale rebuild of their own -- gave Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch six-year deals two offseasons ago. The Dolphins have gone 13-19 over the last two seasons after reaching the playoffs with a 10-6 record in 2016.
(With inputs from agencies.)