Five “What If” scenarios in Miami Dolphins history

Dan Marino Miami Dolphins Mandatory Credit: Manny Rubio-USA TODAY Sports
Dan Marino Miami Dolphins Mandatory Credit: Manny Rubio-USA TODAY Sports /
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Miami Dolphins Daunte Culpepper Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports /

Miami Dolphins “What If” #5: What if they chose Brees instead of Culpepper?

Ah, yes. The King of the What If’s for the Miami Dolphins franchise.

We blame Nick Saban. Nick Saban blames the team doctors. The team doctors blame Brees’ surgically repaired shoulder. But no matter who is at fault, the decision to sign Daunte Culpepper and pass on Drew Brees will go down as the biggest mistake in team history.

Both quarterbacks were available during the 2006 off-season, and the Dolphins were in desperate need of a franchise-changing presence under center for the foreseeable future. The search predictably ended up coming down to Culpepper and Brees.

Culpepper was an all-pro during his time with the Minnesota Vikings and was named the Offensive Player of the Year in 2004 behind a 4,700+ yard and 39 touchdown performance. But a poor performance to begin the following season and an injury that allowed him to play in just seven games caused him to fall out of favor with the team. He requested a trade.

Brees had a most modest career with his first team. After struggling with turnovers during his first two seasons with the Chargers, he had two solid seasons in 2004 and 2005 when he threw a combined 6,700 yards and 51 touchdowns compared to just 22 interceptions. But in the final game of the 2005 campaign, Brees tore his labrum diving for a fumble, causing him to need off-season surgery to repair it. The Chargers offered him a contract that wasn’t to his liking, and he hit the open market.

The rest is depressing, regrettable history. The Miami Dolphins, on account of injury concerns, opted to trade a second-round pick for Culpepper.

Drew Brees would go on to become one of the greatest quarterbacks that the game has ever seen. He turned the New Orleans Saints from perennial losers into yearly contenders, transforming the franchise and even the city. He spent 15 historic years there, re-writing the record books and winning a Super Bowl MVP award along the way. Brees led the league in passing yards seven times over, in touchdowns four times, and was named to twelve Pro Bowls. He currently sits at second on the NFL’s all time lists for passing yards, passing touchdowns, and completion percentage.

Daunte Culpepper played in four games for the Dolphins, posting a 1-3 record while throwing for 929 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. He was booed by the home crowd with calls for replacing him with Joey Harrington.

We’ll let you put together the “What If” for this one.