INDIANAPOLIS – Miami Dolphins general manager Chris Grier wanted to serve his speech Wednesday, saying that he should not expect a team tanker in 2019.
At a press conference on December 31, owner Stephen Ross said his fired coach, Adam Gase, "wanted to win and win now" and that the Dolphins were taking a different approach – a rebuild including – to escape mediocrity.
"If it takes about a year, two years, three years, we'll be there," Ross said at the time.
He clarified this a bit when Brian Flores was introduced as the team's new head coach, and Grier again made it Wednesday with a more accurate answer.
"Everyone has interpreted Steve's words at the press conference out of context," Grier said. "You've been around Steve – he's an unstable, very competitive person, we're not trying to lose games, we're going to do what's best.
"We do not try to lose or lose every game, we try to build it well and see how it goes."
The Dolphins are clearly rebuilding and have many holes to fill, starting with the quarterback. They must rebuild the offensive and defensive lines while respecting their salary cap of very expensive and aging veterans.
Some Dolphin players said during the off season that they were not sure of the 2019 message, but that they wanted to compete. Grier and Flores set up this type of mentality as pillars of this new era.
"I do not see how you can ask 53 guys to put their bodies into play to lose games," Grier said. "We want hard, competitive guys – it's a bit hard to say you want that and hold it back for a year, fix yourself so we can lose."
One proof is that Grier is refuting the speculation that they would consider exchanging star cornerback Xavien Howard. Grier said that he was "very confident" that Howard is on their 2019 list.
Howard is eligible for a contract extension and said at the end of the season that he wanted to be the NFL's highest-paying cornerback. He also admitted to having heard commercial discussions outside of the season.
The Dolphins are in the evaluation phase for most of their team, but they have encircled some players – like Howard – that they absolutely want to keep.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill may be on the block. Miami is expected to leave him. Flores said that they were still at the evaluation stage and that no final decision had been taken.
Adam Schefter of ESPN reported that the Dolphins were already trying to get in position to land one of the announced quarters of the NFL 2020 selection class. This group should feature Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama), Justin Herbert (Oregon) and Jake Fromm (Georgia).
Grier mentioned that the QB 2019 class is a "good group" and that he can not evaluate the 2020 class until he has not interviewed him, as this reveals the traits that he has. it values more than a heavy arm or athleticism.
Whether Miami adds a better quarterback in the NFL Draft in 2019 – like Kyler Murray or Dwayne Haskins – or build in the trenches while waiting for a quarter in 2020, its rebuilding will not take place as long as a quarter of deductible will be identified and selected.
Grier seems to know it too. He made it clear that his franchise quarter would be smart and would have the right intangible assets to take this franchise to a more promising day. But he says he's not considering doing an NBA-style tank job to have his guy.