AFC Notes: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Dolphins, Steelers

     

Minkah Fitzpatrick 

Dolphins GM Chris Grier spoke to the media on Tuesday the day after trading DB Minkah Fitzpatrick only a year after Miami selected him in the first round. It was the second high-profile trade of a player seen as an organizational building block after the Dolphins also shipped out LT Laremy Tunsil. Grier said the Dolphins didn’t seek out those deals, but once the opportunities came up they were too good to pass on.  

“I would say very unexpected as far as the Laremy and Minkah situations. You can’t prepare for that,” Grier said via ESPN’s Cameron Wolfe. “The opportunities as well were kind of unique with a little bit of a historic haul for [Tunsil] and Kenny, what we’re getting. … We know as the team was built right now, it wasn’t going to win a Super Bowl, much less [to] compete for a playoff spot. Again, we’re trying to build a team that’s going to win right now and do it, a long-term winner and bring a championship here hopefully to South Florida.”

While Grier said the Texans just blew their socks off with an offer for Tunsil, the deal sending Fitzpatrick to the Steelers for a first-round pick happened because Fitzpatrick expressed unhappiness with the direction of the organization. The Dolphins tried to talk him into staying to no avail.

“With Minkah, it’s just one of those things the player expressed that it may be time for him to change,” said Grier. “We tried to make it work — myself, [coach] Brian [Flores], [owner] Steve [Ross] had multiple conversations with him about saying we wanted him to be here, he was as a core piece. The kid felt it was time for him to move. We told teams what the value was, we had multiple offers. We felt the Pittsburgh one was best for the organization. When we got to a point where we felt like it wasn’t going to work, we said if we get the value that we deem worth moving him, we’d do it.”

Grier didn’t say exactly when the Dolphins planned on shifting gears to compete but hinted it would be sooner rather than later. 

“We’ve talked about building this long term, with sustained success right away. We’ll be very aggressive. We’re not going to sit here on a bunch of money or anything,” Grier said. “The plan is to build a winner here. No one likes losing. We’ve talked about building a team that’s going to win and compete for championships for a long time rather than being this one year then you fall back for two or three [years]. It’s long-term vision but we will be aggressive.”

Dolphins

  • According to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, Minkah Fitzpatrick wanted the coaching staff to leave him at either outside or slot corner, not shift him around to safety or even dime linebacker. 
  • Salguero adds the Dolphins chose the Steelers’ offer because they felt it could be the highest pick. Pittsburgh is 0-2 and just lost its starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for the year. 
  • The Texans were persistent in negotiations for Tunsil, and Tunsil even said upon seeing the trade details, “I would trade me for that too.” (Adam Beasley)
  • Fitzpatrick is the only player to express a desire to be traded, according to Grier. (Joe Schad)
  • The Dolphins still plan to develop QB Josh Rosen this season: “When he’s ready go, if coaches deem it’s time to go, he’ll play.” (Salguero)

Steelers

  • According to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport, Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger will not have Tommy John surgery on his elbow and will undergo a different procedure with a shorter recovery time. 
  • Rapoport says Roethlisberger plans to be ready for next season. 
  • Steelers HC Mike Tomlin said they studied DB Minkah Fitzpatrick hard in the 2018 draft, eventually taking S Terrell Edmunds 17 picks later in the first round: “It was no secret we wanted a high-end safety.” (Gerry Dulac)
  • He added the team would keep Fitzpatrick exclusively at free safety after the second-year player played nearly every position in the secondary as a rookie: “We’re going to anchor him down.” (Dulac)
  • Tomlin told reporters Fitzpatrick will play on Sunday against the 49ers, though in a somewhat limited role as he learns the playbook: “He’s on the ground now as we speak so we have almost a full week to prepare him to play.” (Mike Garafolo)
  • Tomlin mentioned Steelers QB Devlin Hodges, elevated from the practice squad this week to back up new starter Mason Rudolph, is the “best short-term option in terms of knowing what we do.” (Dulac)
  • The Steelers will leave recently-signed QB Paxton Lynch on the practice squad, for now, to “infuse him into our culture and evaluate him” without using a roster spot, per Tomlin.

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