When Jacksonville Jaguars kicker Matthew Wright’s kick sailed through the London sky and between the uprights for a Jacksonville win last weekend, snapping a streak of 20 straight losses, the Miami Dolphins were left with many questions.
What has gone wrong for a team that won 10 games last year? Where does the team go from here? Is it time for change?
Before the season, rumors began to link Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson to the Miami Dolphins, and these rumors have persisted throughout the season. With the Fins at an unenviable 1-5, it is time to seriously consider the prospect, but there’s controversy.
Watson is currently being sued by 22 women in Texas for alleged sexual misconduct. The league has yet to take action against him, with the Texans opting to sit him until the issue is resolved. The league could still intervene and suspend him, even if the cases are settled or dropped altogether. That would be similar to a six-game suspension handed down to Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in 2010 after he settled a civil suit for rape out of court.
Last season, the last time he was on the field, Watson led the league in passing yards and threw 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He has played at that elite level for three seasons.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins are still trying to figure out what they have with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, the fifth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Like the fanbase, the Dolphins seem to be split on acquiring Watson.
“Owner Stephen Ross’ interest reportedly is real, while I believe [general manager] Chris Grier and coach Brian Flores are content to let Tua Tagovailoa prove himself,” said Greg Cote of the Miami Herald in Dan Le Batard Show.
With this season it is unlikely to result in a playoff appearance, it looks like the Dolphins Super Bowl drought will be extended to 49 years. So the front office will have decisions to make.
The team doesn’t own its own first-round pick in the next draft, but it does hold the San Francisco 49ers first-rounder. It will also have between $70 and $100 million in cap space to improve the team. Does the team give Tagovailoa a third year with a revamped team or make its move for Watson, who has made it known he wants to be traded?
Having a great quarterback might help mask other issues the team has. Watson would no doubt fill that role. Here is how he compares to Tagovailoa.
This desire to win now is as strong as ever for 81-year-old Ross, who acquired the team in 2008 and has not won a playoff game. Watson would be the first truly elite quarterback the team has had since Dan Marino retired after the 1999 season, and Ross likely sees the chance to make the Dolphins a perennial contender like they were with Marino.
According to ESPN, the interest is mutual, with Miami being Watson’s preferred trade destination.
Trade talks could be heating up. This past Wednesday, the Houston Chronicle’s John McClain reported that the Dolphins and Texans could have a deal done as soon as this week. The rumors would also include sending Tagovailoa to another team, with the Washington Football Team a possible destination.
If Miami is indeed interested, the team might have to swallow a suspension.
In a column criticizing the potential trade, Sun Sentinel columnist Dave Hyde wrote this week: “Houston would play the Dolphins as a potential stooge here. What if they pull off this trade and Watson goes to jail? Or the NFL suspends him all next season? I know: Nothing never, ever goes wrong around the Dolphins’ decisions, does it?”
To some fans, the benefits of an elite quarterback are too much to pass on, even if the price is high, and a quarterback entering the prime of his career doesn’t hit the trading block often.
The Dolphins’ record means they can be patient and wait until the end of the season to make their move, with a deal this season unlikely to alter their current trajectory of missing the playoffs.
The legal issues aren’t expected to be resolved before the NFL’s November 2 trade deadline, with a trial date expected in 2022.
A decision regarding a potential suspension of Watson is ultimately in the hands of commissioner Roger Goodell
Whether or not Watson is suspended, the Dolphins will need to make a decision on their pursuit of Watson.
If the team is serious about winning — and sure it can weather the storm of angry criticism from women, advocates and some fans that is likely to follow the deal — biting the bullet on a suspension might be the best move and secure them an elite QB for the future.