Reconstruction was planned for the Miami Dolphins, but trading away 2018 first-round choice Minkah Fitzpatrick was never part of the original blueprints.
Less than 24 hours after news broke that the Dolphins had dealt Fitzpatrick to the Steelers and shortly after the teams made the transaction official, Miami general manager Chris Grier clarified that Fitzpatrick's desire to move on and the Steelers' outstanding offer resulted in the deal.
As lopsided losses pile up and the transactions mount, Grier also confirmed dealing standout left tackle Laremy Tunsil, another former first-rounder, wasn't in the script, but the Texans' offer was one that could not be refused and that the remaining Dolphins are not requesting trades. But Fitzpatrick did and it was the beginning of the conclusion of his short tenure in South Beach.
"The kid just felt it was time for him to move," Grier said of Fitzpatrick, who along with a 2020 fourth-round pick and 2021 seventh-rounder, was sent to the Steelers for a 2020 first-rounder, a fifth-rounder in 2020 and a sixth-rounder in 2021. "And we told what the value was. We told teams and we had multiple offers. We felt that the Pittsburgh one was the one best for the organization."
While Fitzpatrick made it known he wanted out, Grier and the organization countered by stating they wanted him in and saw him as a centerpiece of the franchise moving forward. However, they will move forward without him as he'll move on with Pittsburgh.
"With Minkah, just one of those things, you know, the player expressed that it may be time for him to change," Grier said. "So we tried to make it work; myself, Brian [Flores], Steve [Ross], had multiple conversations with him about saying we wanted him here, we think of him as a core piece and we wanted him here."
Hence, this was an unexpected turn of events even though the plan has long been reconfiguring the franchise now for long-term payoffs down the road. Moving Tunsil to the Texans was similar.
"I would say very unexpected as far as the Laremy and Minkah situations," Grier said. "You can't prepare for that. I'm not gonna sit up here and lie about it. For us, the opportunities as well, were kinda unique. With a little bit of the historic haul for Tunsil] and Kenny [Stills] that we're getting. So I think for us, to strike on those opportunities because we know as the team was built right now it wasn't going to win a [Super Bowl, much less it'll be hard to compete for a playoff spot."
In return for Tunsil, Stills, a fourth- and sixth-round pick, the Dolphins took on two first-rounders, a second-round pick, cornerback Johnson Bademosi and offensive tackle Julien Davenport.
The deal was so good, Tunsil approved of it, apparently.
"With Laremy, that was one we got a phone call that kept pursuing us," Grier said. "Multiple times we talked and kept telling them, 'No,' and what it would take and they came and offered it. Funny story I was saying the other day, was, I called Laremy about the trade and Laremy walked into my office and saw it on the board and goes, 'I would trade me for that.' But seriously, we were not trying to do it."
The 2019 rebuilding of the Miami Dolphins has had some unplanned turns, but Grier stood firm that Fitzpatrick's wish to be traded would not become a trend. Perhaps more importantly, Grier added that Xavien Howard, among other Dolphins told the GM they have "bought in 100 percent."
"For us, we had the multiple conversations with Minkah," Grier said. "We told him we wanted him to be here multiple times. Brian, Steve, myself, we all expressed that. For us, when we got to a point where we weren't sure if this was going to work, we said, 'Hey, if we get the value we deemed that was worth moving him, we would do it.' There's no precedent here where any player is gonna come in and say I want out and we're gonna do it. Again, I have not had any calls from any agents or any players asking to want out. We've extended some of our younger players."
So far, so terrible on the field for the Dolphins as their 0-2 start has seen them outscored, 102-10.
Grier believes they're on the right course, though, and even though the Fitzpatrick and Tunsil trades weren't forecasted, what they received in return made them positives.
The here and now is tough to take for the Dolphins faithful, but Grier was firm that the right track is the one the team is on.
"The plan is to build a winner here," Grier said. "No one likes losing. We've talked about building a team that's gonna win and win and compete for championships for a long time instead of being this one year and then you fall back for two or three. Again, it's a long-term vision, but we will be aggressive."