The Miami Dolphins were close to landing Deshaun Watson in a trade but it fell through. A year later, what might have been different?
On Sunday, the Miami Dolphins will face the Deshaun Watson-less Cleveland Browns. Watson will return next week. He will practice for the first time next week and will start against the Houston Texans according to the Browns’ GM. But what if Miami had made that trade? Where would be right now?
We can’t assume that the Dolphins would have kept Tua Tagovailoa but it was clear that the Texans didn’t care if he was part of the package for Watson. We also can’t see where he may have been traded to if the Dolphins would have made the move from Watson.
Let’s assume that Miami makes that trade and opts to either keep Jacoby Brissett or put Teddy Bridgewater in charge of the team for the first 9 weeks. Do we see a path to being 6-3 entering this week against the Browns?
The answer should be 100% no. In fact, you could argue that if the Dolphins kept Tua, they would be in a better position to potentially have at least a .500 record.
Watson is still unknown. He has been out of the league for two years now and there is no guarantee that he will return to his elite form when he does play. In Miami, the Dolphins would look a lot different and would still be waiting.
Miami’s draft would look a lot different.
If we assume again that the trade is at least similar this is what Miami might be looking at.
Miami would have traded a 2022 first-round pick, 2023 and 2024 first-round picks, a 2022 4th round pick, a 2023 3rd round pick, and 4th in 2024.
This is interesting because the NFL took Miami’s 2022 first-round pick. Would Miami have ponied up both of their first-round selections this year? Very possible. The trade would have gone down before the NFL imposed sanctions, fines, and loss of draft picks. How would that have played out? A loss of a 2023 or 2024 first-round pick if not included in a Watson trade?
A completely different offensive look.
If this trade happens after Brian Flores is fired, how would Watson fit into Mike McDaniel’s offense? Would the Dolphins have hired McDaniel or someone else? Given the uncertainty surrounding Tua Tagovailoa and potential head coaches, the Dolphins may have hired someone else to coach the team.
We can also know with 100% certainty that Tyreek Hill is not a member of the Miami Dolphins. Miami needed their first-round pick to trade for Hill and barring Miami having at least one of their first-round picks last year, it would be highly unlikely the Dolphins would have been able to make that trade.
Factor in the enormous contract that Miami would have needed to sign Watson to and Hill is now likely a member of the New York Jets.
Miami’s offense probably doesn’t include Terron Armstead or Cedrick Wilson. Wilson won’t elicit any “aww shucks” comments but the Dolphins would be running a WR group with a lot less talent and we can also safely assume that Mike Gesicki would not have been tagged.
Defense is impacted as well.
The Dolphins managed to maintain almost all of their defensive players but that doesn’t include additions like Melvin Ingram. It likely would not have included the re-signing of Emmanuel Ogbah and we can absolutely rule out the addition of Bradley Chubb.
There are still some on social media outlets that believe Miami should have made the trade and would be better off but in reality, the Dolphins would have been financially strapped, more than they are now, and would have had less talent surrounding their quarterback who has yet to play.
This is what we need to also consider when we look at where Miami would be if Tua wasn’t the QB and a caretaker was. Tua is accurate that he has won with little talent at WR and running back. He has won despite a depleted offensive line because his quick release gives him more time. Would Bridgewater, Brissett, or another QB have done better? Not likely.
Overall, Watson may elevate the Browns into a perennial playoff contender but he isn’t the only piece that a team like Miami would need. The Browns have a great offensive line and a stellar running back group. They have a decent WR group. Cleveland may only be a QB away from being competitive. Miami wasn’t and Tua has proven he wasn’t the problem.
The trade that didn’t happen is something that fans will debate for years and the comparison between Miami and the Browns will continue as well but the reality is, Miami is not the team they are right now in so many ways. From having an elite WR to Mike McDaniel as the coach.