Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
Photo by George Martinez

If Miami Dolphins Draft Baker Mayfield, Ryan Tannehill Is a Goner

ESPN NFL Draft expert Todd McShay released his latest mock draft Wednesday, and if his predictions come true, the Miami Dolphins will be sending a clear message to Ryan Tannehill: Start looking for a good real-estate agent, because your time in Miami is almost up. If McShay's prediction is correct and the Dolphins move from the 11th overall spot to the six slot to draft Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield later this month, the Fins' current starting quarterback should use the 2018 season to audition for another team. That's because the 2018 season will only be about whether he's worth anything to another team in a trade before Miami cuts him.

The Dolphins would reportedly have to give up as much as a third-round pick in this year's draft plus their first-round pick next season to move up five spots to nab Mayfield. For a team like the Dolphins, who have a plethora of holes across their roster and a desperate need for more cheap young talent, that's a price worth paying only for a new cornerstone — not a backup quarterback.

Time will tell if Mayfield is more Drew Brees than Johnny Manziel, but the Dolphins' front office doesn't have all that much time with a restless fan base. The only way to find out if Mayfield is the real deal is to let him play football soon. Unless the Fins plan to reinvent the NFL and deploy a two-quarterback system, that means Tannehill will either be cut next season or, best-case scenario, traded to another team. In the meantime, drafting a high-priced backup is not exactly reassuring to a guy coming off knee surgery.

The Dolphins just restructured Tannehill's contract. That sort of money movement doesn't come for free. Tannehill will turn 30 years old this year, but after missing the past 19 months because of knee injuries, he's a young 30 with many years left in his legs if his knees hold up. Tannehill's confidence is likely at an all-time low, and drafting his obvious replacement could be the last straw in his Dolphins career.

Coach Adam Gase and team executive VP Mike Tannenbaum are heading into their third season together, so they have to know that paying well for a backup means Tannehill is a goner, regardless of Mayfield's practice reps. They'll need to find out soon if the young gunslinger is any good. How well Mayfield performs would be crucial to how long Gase and Tannenbaum can remain in charge of the Dolphins.

Is undercutting Tannehill's confidence as he recovers from a knee injury the best idea for a coaching staff and front office that need to win games sooner rather than later? Are Gase and Tannenbaum under the impression they have enough job security that a ten-year plan is totally acceptable?

No matter what happens, moving up in the draft to nab Mayfield would make or break the Dolphins for the foreseeable future. Even if Mayfield never plays, his presence would change everything for Tannehill this year.

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