The Ryan Tannehill trade sweepstakes — that might be a generous way of framing it — appear to have started.
Over the weekend, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that the Dolphins “have had trade talks” about their long-time starting quarterback. The Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero characterized those talks as “mostly preliminary,” reporting that the Dolphins are mainly letting teams know that Tannehill is available for trade.
Salguero provided one quarterback-needy team that the Dolphins have spoken to about Tannehill. Apparently, the Dolphins have “engaged” in trade talks with the Redskins — the same Redskins team that traded for Alex Smith a year ago, immediately gave him a pricey contract extension that makes him uncuttable until 2021, and are now faced with the possibility of playing out the upcoming season without Smith, who continues to recover from a gruesome leg injury that required surgery, which led to complications.
Of course, just because the Dolphins reached out to the Redskins and the Redskins desperately need a quarterback in 2019 doesn’t mean the Redskins will take the bait. Trading for Tannehill likely won’t solve much of anything.
From just a pure football standpoint, acquiring Tannehill won’t turn the Redskins into a Super Bowl contender. There’s an argument to be made that Tannehill could — maybe? — help the Redskins return to the playoffs considering they’re coming off a 7-9 season that saw them start Josh Johnson, Mark Sanchez, and Colt McCoy for six total games. Tannehill, for all of his faults, has thrown 36 touchdowns and 21 interceptions for a 93.2 passer rating and went 13-11 over his past two seasons as a starter on an extremely meh Dolphins team. Tannehill would certainly be better for the Redskins than, say, McCoy.
But the cost makes a Tannehill trade unlikely. First, they’d be forced to give the Dolphins something of value. Then, they’d be forced to take on the rest of Tannehill’s contract. His base salary in 2019? A little more than $18.7 million. It’d make much more sense for the Redskins — if they even want him — to wait for the Dolphins to cut Tannehill and then sign him at a cheaper, one-year deal that also gives Tannehill a chance to audition for a 2020 starting job. More likely, the Redskins will target a quarterback in the draft, sign a quarterback with more upside in free agency or maybe even try to trade for Josh Rosen if the Cardinals do, in fact, decide to draft Kyler Murray.
Those two factors don’t just apply to the Redskins. It applies to every team potentially interested in Tannehill’s services, which is why it’s extremely unlikely the Dolphins find a trade partner. The most-likely scenario sees the Dolphins cutting Tannehill later this month, Tannehill signing a cheap contract to either be a bridge quarterback or a backup for some quarterback-needy team, and the Dolphins addressing the quarterback position in the draft or with a cheap signee in free agency.
In the meantime, the Dolphins will explore every possible trade option in hopes of getting something of value for a former first-round pick who never became the franchise quarterback they hoped he’d become.