The Dolphins’ decision to bench quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick came because Miami leadership wanted to determine whether Tua Tagovailoa indeed is the quarterback of the future or if they should consider drafting another one in 2021, ESPN reported Sunday.
That’s because the Dolphins (3-3) own the No. 1 pick of the Texans (1-6), a product of the 2019 trade that sent left tackle Laremy Tunsil to Houston. The New York Jets are winless, and the Texans are one of five teams that enter play Sunday with just one win.
That means the Dolphins could wind up with one of the top picks, via the Texans, that could be used on quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence of Clemson or Justin Fields of Ohio State.
Trey Lance of North Dakota State also is projected as a first-round draft pick.
One of those one-win teams — the Cincinnati Bengals — won’t be selecting a quarterback. Joe Burrow, the No. 1 pick in the 2020 draft, has that spot locked up. So if the Bengals end up with a top-three pick, any team with the No. 3 overall pick in 2021 will be virtually assured of landing Lawrence or Fields.
Tagovailoa will make his first career start on Sunday at home against the Los Angeles Rams in what could be the beginning of a 10-game audition for the Dolphins.
Coach Brian Flores announced the shift from Fitzpatrick to Tagovailoa on Oct. 21, saying the No. 5 overall pick in the 2020 draft would take over at QB after the bye week. The shift came just two weeks after Flores said the coaching staff didn’t think the rookie, coming off of hip surgery in his final season at Alabama, was ready.
The news came as a surprise to journeyman Fitzpatrick, who knew he was keeping the seat warm for Tagovailoa but didn’t expect the change so soon.
The Dolphins enter the game in second place in the AFC East, trailing the Buffalo Bills (5-2).
Fitzpatrick, 37, has completed 138 of 197 passes for 1,535 yards with 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions this season, which is his 16th in the NFL.
“Fitz has done a great job,” Flores said. “He’s been productive. His leadership’s been great. It’s not an easy decision for me or us as an organization. But we felt like for the team now and moving forward, this is the move we need to make.”
–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)