With the Dolphins’ announcement of Tua Tagovailoa as their starter, we look at where Ryan Fitzpatrick may land after the inevitable upcoming trade.
The Miami Dolphins are 3-3 through six weeks of the season, putting them only one game behind the Buffalo Bills for lead in the AFC East. The Bills’ remaining schedule has the potential to be rough, leaving the Dolphins with the chance of pulling ahead of the Bills and winning the division.
This largely has to do with the play of Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is currently completing 70.1 percent of his passes for 1535 yards and 10 touchdowns. Add in another 135 yards and two touchdowns that he has picked up on the ground and it becomes clear why the Dolphins have been able to win games against teams like San Francisco or stay competitive (lost by one score or less) against Buffalo and the Seattle Seahawks (a top three team in football).
Despite all of this, despite the fact that the team is on a two game winning streak after embarrassing the 49ers and Jets, despite the team having been built on Fitzpatrick for a season and a half now – the Dolphins have announced that Tua Tagovailoa will be the team’s starting quarterback in week 8 (they have a bye in week 7, so this is their next game).
Fitzpatrick was rightfully upset, telling reporters during a press conference that it was “heartbreaking” and despite knowing that this day would come this season, it does not make it any less sad.
Fitzpatrick is a respectful, veteran player, so for him to publicly make comments like these speaks volumes as to where his head is at. He would never publicly request a trade, but it would not be surprising if that conversations has happened or is happening behind closed doors at this moment.
Sure, the Dolphins may choose to ignore him and not trade him, Tagovailoa’s injury history and young age will make a backup quarterback vital, and sure, maybe Fitzpatrick is happy riding the bench.
Reality is, however, that trading Fitzpatrick is universally beneficial to both sides: Fitzpatrick gets an opportunity to start and compete, while the Dolphins can avoid a split locker room and fanbase, as well as secure some late-round draft capital.
Therefore, assuming Fitzpatrick wants to go somewhere he can play (he is a very competitive player so this is quite likely), and assuming the Dolphins do trade him, where would be the landing spots that make the most sense for Ryan Fitzpatrick?
(A Note: After sharing this with some friends also in sports writing, many people pointed out that moving Fitz would mess with the Dolphins depth at QB. The answer to that is simple: Josh Rosen is available as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice squad. He already knows the playbook, and I am certain he would be willing to look past any hard feelings he has for a paycheck)
4: Cleveland Browns
Alright, so starting with maybe the hottest take on this list may not have been the smartest choice.
Yes, the Browns are 4-2, and yes, the Browns could be a legitimate playoff team this season. The problem is, we just genuinely do not know who the Browns really are and what they are capable of. They have beaten Cincinnati, Washington, Dallas, and Indianapolis, all teams that are less then great, but the only teams they have lost to are the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens, two of the best teams in the AFC.
All we know for certain about the Cleveland Browns is that Kareem Hunt is still a crazy good running back and that Myles Garret is still great at decimating offensive lines (it is almost like we forgot the time that he tried to kill a player on the field by swinging a helmet at said players head. You can have your opinions on the justification, but attempted murder is still attempted murder).
However, that does not mean that there are no questions concerning Baker Mayfield.
Mayfield is currently struggling, largely thanks to the fact that he is currently playing under the third head coach of his young career. Never having more than a season to get accustomed to any system has really hindered his growth as a quarterback, and this season is really highlighting that problem. He is struggling to get through his progressions, is missing big time throws, and has made several costly pre-snap reads.
On top of everything, he is fighting with a rib injury.
Bringing in Ryan Fitzpatrick would not only offer a great substitute for if Baker’s injury gets any worse, but also puts a pair of veteran eyes in the QB room with Mayfield to help offer insight and guidance from a player that has played in countless different systems. It may not be the most ideal spot for Fitzpatrick, as it likely will not yield much playing time, but it does help the Browns become potentially much better, much sooner then currently projected.
3: Cincinnati Bengals
Again, this may not be Fitzpatrick’s top picks, but this trade is a win-win for the Bengals and Dolphins.
The Bengals would be wise to get a veteran quarterback to hang out with Joe Burrow and just offer him little bits of advice here and there. This relationship would help Burrow get better at reading defenses, making the right read, and may even help teach Burrow how to more effectively scramble (Fitzpatrick is an underrated scrambler, not on the level of some of these super athletes playing QB like Lamar Jackson, but much better then the clunky towering runners of the past like Brady and Big Ben).
What do the Dolphins get? How about A.J. Green?
A.J. Green obviously does not want to play for the Bengals, and when you watch him play, it is pretty clear that he is phoning it in at this point. A cancer like that can not be allowed to stick around, and it is more beneficial to the team to make some profit off of him.
Does it weaken the Bengals receiving core? Absolutely, but the reality is that with the fifth-round pick that the Dolphins would be sending with Fitzpatrick in this trade, along with the high-value draft picks that the Bengals are going to have, that problem can be fixed in the draft hopefully along with that abysmal offensive line.
The Bengals are not winning anything major this season, so this would really serve as a great move to help them rebuild the next few years.
2: San Francisco 49ers
If Jimmy Garoppolo were about 7% a better quarterback, the 49ers would have left Miami with the Lombardi. I will almost guarantee that the coaches and executives at Levi Stadium realize that and are slightly critical of Jimmy G for that reason.
The 49ers are not committed to Jimmy Garropolo, despite his role in their Super Bowl offense last season. They actually played three different quarterbacks this season: Jimmy G, Nick Mullens (due to Jimmy G’s injury), and CJ Beathard (due to Jimmy G’s poor performance). Garoppolo bounced back this past week against the Los Angeles Rams, but there are certainly plenty of questions circulating in San Fran when it comes to the QB room.
There is certainly a QB competition brewing for the 49ers, and with the three options being Garoppolo, Beathard, and Mullens, I am certain the coaches would not mind a veteran leader to step in and make not a more interesting competition, but hopefully a more interesting 49ers team.
Enter Ryan Fitzpatrick.
A veteran with the ability to lead a team and put it on his back if nothing else fails (see Dolphins-Patriots Week 17 of 2019 season), “Fitzmagic” would energize the offense in the way that Nick Bosa energizes the defense. Even if he fails to earn the starting QB position, just his presence will push the rest of the QBs to be better and the mentorship needed to guide them in those big moments (like potential game-winning drives in the Super Bowl).
The 49ers need to be buyers this season, as a poor season following a Super Bowl appearance could be disastorous, and with a division as stacked as the NFC West, 3-3 has them on the brink of that disaster. Fitpatrick does not immediately fix all of their problem (like injuries) but he does help give them the boost that might lift them to the playoffs at least.
1: Dallas Cowboys
This one was obvious.
This is probably the most perfect move that the Cowboys could make (besides maybe taking a chance on Colin Kaepernick). Bring in a veteran QB to the team to try and do something with the team this season.
With the way the NFC East is playing out, you could easily make the playoffs with like five wins, and if you do not make the playoffs, you get a high-value draft pick. Win/Win, you either get to see playoff Fitzmagic or draft position where you can leverage for Justin Fields. Then, when they inevitably lose Dak this offseason because they will have refused to pay him twice at that point, draft a quarterback high in the draft and have him sit a season behind that veteran to learn how the best do it.
Sure, maybe Fitzpatrick will have to “compete” for the starting job with Andy Dalton, or maybe he just has to wait for Andy Dalton to make enough mistakes to take the starting position.
Fitz is able to make absolute magic with just Devante Parker and Mike Gesicki, imagine what he can do with Amari Cooper, Ceedee Lamb, and Ezekiel Elliot to toss at. That sounds like a team worth watching. But so does any team that Fitz is playing for.