Tannehill had a scare Thursday after he fell in practice, and the team now fears he will need season-ending surgery, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Jeff Darlington.
Kaepernick could be a good fit for the Dolphins, whose coaching staff has already shown the flexibility required to build around a quarterback with a non-conventional skill set. However, the support Kaepernick has shown for former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro could be a deal breaker in Miami, where a large population of Cuban exiles remains fervently anti-Castro.
That is where we begin in sizing up the Dolphins’ QB options if Tannehill’s knee is a lingering issue, and he is lost for any great period of time.
The Kaepernick conundrum
Kaepernick played his best game of the 2016 season against the Dolphins, completing 29 of 46 passes for 296 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed 10 times for 113 yards. He was everything the Dolphins hoped Tannehill could be, and then some.
The Kaepernick decision is obviously about more than football. In addition to kneeling for the national anthem in protest of racial inequities, Kaepernick showed up to a 49ers news conference last summer wearing a T-shirt depicting Castro and Malcolm X, with a caption reading, “Like minds think alike.”
Miami Herald columnist Armando Salguero called Kaepernick an “unrepentant hypocrite” in a column detailing his own escape from Castro’s Cuba. Many others in Miami could feel similarly, which could lead the Dolphins away from Kaepernick if Tannehill is lost.
When then-Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen expressed admiration for Castro in 2012, protest groups organized and the team suspended Guillen for five games. Guillen apologized and called his comments the biggest mistake of his life.
The Dolphins know this history and know signing Kaepernick could upset fans on multiple fronts.
The Osweiler option
Brock Osweiler was so ineffective in Houston last season that the Texans traded a second-round pick to Cleveland in exchange for the Browns taking on his $16 million salary. The Browns immediately tried to unload Osweiler, only to discover teams weren’t interested in him even if Cleveland agreed to eat some of the salary.
Osweiler was a more promising prospect previously in Denver, where current Dolphins coach Adam Gase was once his offensive coordinator.
The Browns and Dolphins would have to figure out how to handle the $16 million salary that followed Osweiler from Houston to Cleveland. Perhaps the Browns would agree to pay a portion of the money in exchange for a draft choice or whatever else the sides could agree upon as compensation.
Osweiler, though toxic around the league at large, would come to the Dolphins already familiar with Gase’s system. The credibility Gase has earned among Dolphins players could help him revive Osweiler at least to some degree. Imagine Gase’s standing in Miami if he could win with Osweiler.
What else is there?
The Dolphins proved last season they could win in the short term with Matt Moore in the lineup. Moore might make the most sense for them in the short term this season if a serious injury befell Tannehill. But with 2016 seventh-rounder Brandon Doughty and college free agent David Fales as the only other alternatives, the Dolphins would presumably want another option in that circumstance.
Robert Griffin III is unsigned, but no one in the league seems excited about him. New England has resisted trading Jimmy Garoppolo and may or may not care about sending him to a division rival (the Patriots once traded Drew Bledsoe to Buffalo, so anything is possible). Former Buffalo starter EJ Manuel is having a good camp with the Oakland Raiders as he tries to revive his career. Could he be available? What about Cincinnati’s AJ McCarron?
There is at least one other potential veteran option: Jay Cutler, who left a tepid market in free agency for the Fox broadcast booth. Gase coached Cutler in Chicago, so there is at least familiarity.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. It remains to be see just how desperate the Dolphins might be.