The Miami Dolphins and General Manager Chris Grier just surprised the NFL with a huge trade. The franchise’s star left tackle Laremy Tunsil is headed to the Houston Texans along with wide receiver Kenny Stills. The full terms of the trade see the Houston Texans receiving LT Laremy Tunsil, WR Kenny Stills, a 2020 fourth-round pick and a 2021 sixth-round pick. The Dolphins receive two first-rounders (2020 and 2021), a 2021 second-rounder, ST Johnson Bademosi and OL Julien Davenport, per Adam Schefter.
Pro Football Network learned earlier that despite what Miami told Tunsil’s agent Jimmy Sexton, the Dolphins soured on him. Evidently, he was lackadaisical and consistently lacked urgency. Not playing Tunsil in preseason games was a pre-cursor to this outcome, according to some league sources.
As reported earlier this week by our very own Matthew Cannata and later confirmed by NFL Draft insider Tony Pauline, Tunsil was one of the many players the Dolphins have dangling as trade bait.
In addition to Clowney, numerous sources to Pro Football Network are telling us that the Miami Dolphins are shopping their entire team, including all tradeable veterans. This means that while some contracts can’t be traded (Xavien Howard, for example), there are many who the Dolphins will listen to offers for. This includes offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil.
Sources from Laremy Tunsil’s team have confirmed with our own Tony Pauline that he has been dangled around the league as trade bait. This is in line with what we have been reporting – the Miami Dolphins are shopping a number of veterans on their roster, which includes Tunsil.
On the surface, this trade makes little sense for the Dolphins. Why would a team willingly trade away their 25-year-old franchise left tackle? A closer look into the situation might show us the answer.
Recently promoted general manager Chris Grier has long-standing ties to the New England Patriots and first-year head coach Brian Flores was the de facto defensive coordinator for New England just last season. The “Patriot way” has worked its way down to Miami and that is where we can start the search for the reasoning behind this trade.
The Patriots have a history of letting high-calibre players in their prime leave in free agency or trading them before it’s time to pay them top dollar. We saw Chandler Jones, one of the league’s best pass rushers, traded to the Arizona Cardinals for guard Jonathan Cooper and a second-round draft pick. Jones was entering the last year of his rookie deal and a large payday was headed his way soon if the team did not find a way to get value out of him first.
In 2018, the Patriots traded wide receiver Brandin Cooks and a fourth-round draft pick to the Los Angeles Rams for a first and sixth-round draft picks one year after trading a first-round draft pick to the New Orleans Saints for Cooks. This was likely because they expected Cooks to get a big payday. They were right, as the Rams gave him a new five-year, $81 million deal.
The Dolphins may have adopted this style of managing the team with a huge move in moving Tunsil. Miami chose to exercise Tunsil’s fifth-year option and would have to either pay him $10.3 million in 2020 or come to terms with Tunsil for a long-term contract that would likely make him the highest-paid offensive lineman in the league.
Kenny Stills was also moved in this trade. In 2016, he started all 16 games recording 42 receptions for 726 yards and nine touchdowns. The next season he was awarded with a four-year 32 million dollar contract extension. That same year he had his second-best statistical career with 58 receptions for 847 yards and six touchdowns.
Over the past three seasons, Stills has attracted quite a bit of controversy. The 27-year old has continued to protest racial injustice and police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem. This past week, he openly attacked Jay-Z’s entertainment and social justice partnership with the NFL. The wideout continues to bring attention to important issues but had become a distraction on a team that is trying to rebuild.
The Texans desperately needed offensive line help. They traded Jadeveon Clowney earlier this morning and failed to receive any help for the trenches. They’ve got it now. Tunsil looks to follow up last year’s excellent season and cement himself as the game’s top young tackle. The Texans also add Kenny Stills as they look to become the top team in the AFC South now that Andrew Luck is no longer in the picture.
The Dolphins have started a rebuild, meaning they’ll shed any contracts they can while also gaining draft capital. Expect the Dolphins to be major players all season and prep their roster for success starting next season.