Dolphins reportedly tried to trade for Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford before 2018 season
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The NFL is never short on rumors and there’s a juicy one, albeit one that’s over a year old, that leaked out of the 2019 NFL Annual Meeting in Phoenix this week. The Miami Dolphins, unhappy with their quarterback situation heading into last year, reportedly tried to trade for Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford.
According to Armando Salgeuro of the Miami Herald, ex-Miami coach Adam Gase, now with the Jets, spearheaded an effort to try and upgrade from their current situation, which featured Ryan Tannehill on top of the depth chart.
Salgeuro reports that Gase got personally involved and specifically targeted Stafford, going so far as to reach out “personally to Lions coach Matt Patricia to try to pry Stafford away from the Lions.”
Per the report, the Dolphins and Lions didn’t get far enough down the road to try and actually put together any real compensation package, but Salguero believes the Dolphins were willing to offer “at minimum Miami’s 2018 first-round pick and probably more.”
Uh, you think? Stafford is a two- or three-pick QB at least. Maybe Stafford at his age doesn’t command three first-round picks, but there is zero doubt he’s going to get two of them in return, in addition to a little more compensation coming back to the other team.
There’s also the matter of the financial inflexibility that Stafford’s contract would have caused for the Lions: as noted by ESPN’s Bill Barnwell, the Lions would have had somewhere between $46.5 million and $53 million in dead cap space last year if they dealt Stafford. They would need to really not like Stafford as a quarterback if they wanted to move on with that kind of cap hit.
Miami wanting to move on from Tannehill shouldn’t be too huge of a surprise: they traded him this offseason to the Titans with everyone understanding Tannehill, the No. 9 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, would have been released if he wasn’t cut.
Gase always played his hand as if he was enamored with Tannehill as a quarterback, or at least a big fan of the former Texas A&M starter. But Tannehill missed a ton of time, including the entire 2017 season, which forced the Dolphins to sign and start Jay Cutler for an full year. It wasn’t ideal.
Tannehill was never fully healthy last year and the Dolphins got fined for mislabeling his injury status. There was also a bizarre rant that Gase went on in October about HIPAA laws and not being able to talk about Tannehill’s injury.
So despite Gase’s willingness to back Tannehill, perhaps all of these things make more sense in light of the Dolphins trying to trade for another quarterback.
Lions GM Bob Quinn was asked by Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free-Press about possibly trading Stafford earlier this offseason at the scouting combine and firmly denied that it was a possibility, although Quinn could simply be making sure Stafford doesn’t think that the Lions wanted to try and trade him or even listened to the possibility.
Figuring out a way to make this happen would have taken a lot of maneuvering in terms of the compensation and the salary cap for both sides, but the “what if” factor here is fascinating from the perspective of how it would have changed the short- and long-term outlooks for both teams involved.