NFL teams don’t usually just straight-up tank. We’ve seen it clearly happen in other pro leagues, but in football, too many players are on the field for a single draftee to be worth intentionally punting on an entire series of seasons.
Or so goes the common thinking. If you’re the Miami Dolphins circa most of the 2000s but particularly 2019 and onward, not only are you supertanking, you’ve figured a way around the “too many players are on the field” problem: simply trade all your players.
For current college athletes, playing for the Dolphins at any point in the near future is likely going to be minimally fun, as Miami’s stranded players concluded after it was too late.
Per a league source with knowledge of the situation, multiple Dolphins players contacted their agents after Sunday’s season-opening blowout loss and directed them to attempt to engineer trades elsewhere. The players believe that the coaching staff, despite claiming that they intend to try to win, aren’t serious about competing and winning and by all appearances have bought into the notion that the Dolphins will take their lumps now in the hopes of laying the foundation via high draft picks for building a successful team later.
This was followed by Miami trading their fourth starter-type player in as many weeks, so good luck to all those yet to make it out.
Since we would prefer for today’s college football players to continue enjoying their time with the game, you should help us think of ways these players can avoid playing for the Dolphins (or some other similarly awful team, if another franchise manages to out-tank Miami).
Continue your education at the University of Oklahoma, by Jason
Trying to launch an NFL quarterbacking career without first transferring to play for the Sooners would be foolish. Just ask #1 picks Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray, plus former Alabama star Jalen Hurts. Give the Dolphins an extra year to perhaps accidentally fall to the #2 pick, and spend that time pursuing one of dozens of master’s degrees in weathery Norman, Oklahoma.
The Dolphins will probably still be there a year later, and they’ll probably pick yet another QB (you), but your geological engineering degree will entertain bored Miami media.
If you are imprudent enough to actually leave school and risk playing for the Dolphins, you must next ...
Tank the Combine interview, by Alex and Spencer
Try these conversation points with Miami football staffers during your pre-draft interviews:
- I’m interested in taking up veganism, because earth is love.
- I’d like to be drafted by a team that plays lots of primetime games, but only because going to church for hours every Sunday morning is important to me. In fact, I’m interested in taking lots of August trips to Honduras with youth groups and perhaps serving God full-time one day very, very soon.
- I plan to use my platform as a billionaire’s employee to campaign for Elizabeth Warren.
- Am I a cat or a dog person? Good question. I’m a cat, and a dog, and a mother, and a lover. I’m a sinner and a saint, and I do not feel ashamed.
Be weirdly insistent about not switching positions, by Ryan
To be clear, nobody’s ever suggested that you should be an H-back or tight end, but you’re going to go an aggressive media campaign anyway, making it very clear that you’re a quarterback or nothing at all. This will plant a poisoned seed in the minds of the Dolphins. Why is he so defensive about this? Isn’t this what Tim Tebow and Eric Crouch said?? Wait, are we really about to draft Tim Tebow or Eric Crouch at the top of the first round???
Or do the total opposite of that, by Jason
Act insulted when the Dolphins GM says he’s looking for a franchise quarterback.
“You’re wasting my time, sir,” you say as you, the top quarterback prospect, stand up in anger. “I’ll prove you wrong as a franchise long snapper.”
Slam the door, but not like a quarterback would.
Tank the rest of the Combine too, by Jason
There’s little reason for a #1 QB to work out, especially when a team like Miami has the #1 pick. An imperfect day could hurt your stock, while there’s little to gain from even the best workout.
“Hurt your stock” is, of course, key.
Sure, you should try to play football like Tom Brady — but more crucially, you should try to NFL Combine like Tom Brady. Note the Dolphins passed on him six times in the 2000 draft, then lost to him about 1.7 times per year forever afterward. Perfect workout execution by Tom.
Play hardball (perhaps literally), by Ryan
Just because a team plans to draft you doesn’t mean you have to go along with it.
John Elway told the Colts he’d play baseball instead, so they traded him to the Broncos. Eli Manning told the Chargers he wasn’t interested in playing for them, so they cut a deal with the Giants. They each have two Super Bowl rings, which proves their willingness to buck the structure of the NFL Draft was evidence of their CHAMPIONSHIP MOXIE.
Teams should give the Dolphins an even better haul to snag you, and wouldn’t you like to have all those wonderful picks, Miami? You clearly would!
You’re thinking they’ll never fall for this. They’re the Dolphins. Stay confident and you can pull this off. But if you do fail, be prepared to do what Bo Jackson did when the Bucs drafted him first overall in 1986: sit out an entire season and get drafted by someone else the next year. That’s more enjoyable than getting sacked 57 times.
Make very clear that you intend to spend almost all of your time very near your family in Hawaii, by Jason
If I’m Tua Tagovailoa (I’m not, but this is a thing sports media people say), then during my interview with the Dolphins, I’ll repeat over and over and over how close I am to my family, which lives in and around Ewa Beach, Hawaii. This is obviously true, for anyone who knows my story (if I’m Tagovailoa), so it will only seem like a slight affectation when I keep telling them I’ll only be functional if I can spend almost all my time near the Pacific Ocean, not the Atlantic Ocean.
When the Dolphins GM asks how I managed to thrive in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, which isn’t much closer to Hawaii than Miami is, I’ll point out my little brother is on the Crimson Tide’s roster. Checkmate.
If I’m Trevor Lawrence in 2021, I’ll use exactly the same strategy: constantly tell Miami I do not plan to leave my hometown in Hawaii. When the Dolphins GM points out Hawaii is nowhere near my hometown in Georgia, I’ll remind him I’m looking for a franchise that understands the importance of family.
Have a skin tone, by Richard
An uncontrollable is working in your favor, if you’re a QB trying to fall a few key spots in the draft. Economic anxiety could keep Dolphins owner Stephen Ross from handing first-round millions to you, a QB of color.
Fake your death, by Ryan
Admittedly, this is the most extreme proposal, and the one that may cause the most damage to your personal life, but real friends will understand. The key here is timing: you need to disappear in a mysterious scuba diving accident two days before the Draft, and then majestically reappear around pick 26 or so. If the Dolphins complain, tell them this is life’s version of a play-action fake and they should fire their scouts for falling for it.
This will also help you create some excellent media narratives the first time you lead a fourth quarter comeback.
Accept fate and focus on your finances, by Bud
If you’re getting picked by Miami, you’re going to have a lot of money, because the Dolphins are intentionally tanking and your pick will be a high one. And if you make a lot of money, Miami is a great place to live.
You’re the centerpiece of the rebuild. Because of confirmation bias and the need from the administration to appear on schedule, you are very likely to get a large contract extension early in your career, even if you’re not that good.
Big money early, likely to get every possible benefit of the doubt, and bigger money earlier than others, all while living in a nice place to spend money? There’s more to life than winning football games.