As it turns out, it’s the Brock Osweiler Trade Light.
The curious ability of the Dolphins to unload quarterback Ryan Tannehill and a 2019 sixth-round pick onto the Titans for a 2020 fourth-round pick and a 2019 seventh-round pick was fueled by Miami’s decision to give Tannehill a $5 million parting gift.
The Dolphins will pay that much of Tannehill’s guaranteed $7 million salary for 2019, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.
So, basically, the Dolphins have purchased for $5 million and a sixth-round pick this year a fourth-round pick next year and a seventh-round pick this year. That’s the only reason to trade Tannehill instead of cutting him, given that Tannehill’s contract had no guaranteed money due in 2019.
Indeed, the Dolphins simply could have cut Tannehill, owing him nothing and accepting nothing in exchange for him. Instead, they get value in the form of net draft-pick gain — but they’re paying $5 million for it.
From Tannehill’s perspective, there was no reason to accept the trade, given that the Dolphins eventually would have released him. With no trigger in his contract forcing Miami to either make a lump-sum payment or guarantee a chunk of his base salary, however, the Dolphins could have squatted on Tannehill, waiting for perhaps an injury or the inability of a team to get a quarterback they may be targeting in the draft. His base salary would have remained not guaranteed until Week One of the regular season.
Of course, the Dolphins would have had to allow Tannehill to participate in the offseason program opening next month, assuming the risk of a fluke season-ending injury that would have put the team on the hook for the full $18.75 million he was previously due to earn.
So it was a win-win-win for a team that needed a backup quarterback, a team that wanted to shed its starting quarterback, and a quarterback whose options likely would have dried up if he’d refused to go along with the trade and the reduced salary.
The move will conjure memories of the deal that sent then-Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler and a second-round pick to the Browns. By assuming Osweiler’s guaranteed salary, the Browns bought a second-round pick for $16 million. Here, the Dolphins bought a four and a seven for $5 million and a six — and the Titans got insurance against Marcus Mariota injury or ineffectiveness plus a sixth-round pick for $2 million, a seventh-round pick, and a future fourth-round pick.