After the Miami Dolphins' back-to-back wins against the New York Jets and Indianapolis Colts, it's clear the dream that was drafting Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa with the first-overall pick is over. The Dolphins, now 2-7, are almost assuredly eliminated from the #TankForTua sweepstakes. It was a valiant effort, but in the end, surprisingly, the Dolphins just have gotten their shit far too together to out-stink the rest of the league.
It's time for Plan B. It's time to pull up YouTube videos of Auburn quarterback and Heisman frontrunner Joe Burrow, 6-foot-6 Oregon quarterback Jason Herbert, Utah State gunslinger Jordan Love, and possibly even Oklahoma's Jaylen Hurts.
Oh, and it's time to inquire about the availability of Cam Newton, the Carolina Panthers quarterback who might not return to the team that selected him first overall in the 2011 NFL Draft. Newton will likely be traded this offseason, and the Dolphins should think hard about acquiring the 30-year-old QB if the price is right.
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Why would the Dolphins want to bring in Newton when the plan is to use the highest of their three first-round picks on a quarterback? Outside of Tagovailoa, none of the quarterbacks who will be available in the first round appears to be NFL-ready. Burrow might be the closest, but there's no guarantee any of the less sought-after quarterbacks will be a day-one starter. Newton would be the sort of bridge quarterback who could buy the franchise some time while a younger player was groomed, but he's also still in the prime of his career and could get the Fins deep into the playoffs.
The most appealing part of acquiring Newton is there would be almost no financial commitment. Next season is the last of a five-year, $103 million contract Newton has with the Carolina Panthers, with none of that money being guaranteed. Newton will make $19 million next season, which is estimated to be around the middle of the pack when it comes to starting-QB salaries and toward the bottom in terms of veterans. For a one-year rental who comes with possible Super Bowl chops, that's a fair deal.
The knock on Newton is he's injury- and turnover-prone, but before losing all but two games this season to a shoulder injury, he had played in at least 14 games in every season of his career. In reality, Newton missed fewer games with the Panthers in the same amount of time than Ryan Tannehill missed with the Dolphins over his career.
Newton is the sort of dual-threat quarterback the Dolphins could rely on in a rebuilding season. He is not the long-term answer — that much is not debatable — but he would be a terrific stopgap who would give Dolphins fans reason to believe rebuilding and the ability to compete could coincide. The Dolphins must find the quarterback of the future this offseason, but they should also kick the tires on the quarterback of the present. If there is a deal to be made, the rebuilding project that coach Brian Flores and general manager Chris Grier are undertaking could be fast-tracked and involve a lot less embarrassment.