Dolphins GM: Not tanking in '19, despite rebuild

INDIANAPOLIS -- Miami Dolphins general manager Chris Grier wanted to clear the air Wednesday, saying to not expect any tanking from his team in 2019.

Owner Stephen Ross raised some eyebrows during a Dec. 31 news conference, saying fired head coach Adam Gase "wanted to win and win now" and that the Dolphins were taking a different approach -- one that included a rebuild -- to escape mediocrity.

"If it takes a year or so, two years, three years, we're going to be there," Ross said at the time.

He clarified that a bit when Brian Flores was introduced as the team's new head coach, and Grier did again Wednesday with a more definite response.

"Everyone took Steve's words in the press conference out of context," Grier said. "You've been around Steve -- he's a volatile, very competitive person. We're not trying to lose games. We're going to do what's best.

"We're not trying to tank or lose every game. We're trying to build it right and see how it plays out."

The Dolphins are clearly rebuilding and have many holes to fill, starting at quarterback. They have to rebuild the offensive and defensive lines along with riding their salary cap of highly priced, aging veterans.

A few Dolphins players have said this offseason that they aren't sure of the message for 2019, but they want to compete. Grier and Flores are implementing that sort of mentality as pillars of this new era.

"I don't see how you can ask 53 guys to put their bodies on the line to lose games," Grier said. "We want tough guys, competitive. It's kind of hard to say you want that and say rein it back for a year, just lay down so we can lose."

Some evidence of that is Grier shooting down speculation that they would consider trading star cornerback Xavien Howard. Grier said he felt "very confident" that Howard would be on their 2019 roster.

Howard is eligible for a contract extension and said at the end of the season that he wants to be the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL. He also admitted to hearing trade talk this offseason.

The Dolphins are in the evaluation stage for much of their roster, but they have circled some players -- like Howard -- they absolutely want to keep.

One name potentially on the chopping block is quarterback Ryan Tannehill. It is expected Miami will move on from him. Flores said they are still in the evaluation stage and no final decisions have been made.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that the Dolphins are already trying to get in position to land one of the heralded quarterbacks from the 2020 NFL draft class. That group is expected to feature Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa, Oregon's Justin Herbert and Georgia's Jake Fromm.

Grier mentioned that the 2019 QB class is a "good group," and he can't evaluate the 2020 class until he interviews them, since that reveals the traits that he values more than a big arm or athleticism.

Whether Miami adds a top quarterback in the 2019 NFL draft -- like Kyler Murray or Dwayne Haskins -- or builds in the trenches while waiting for a QB in 2020, its rebuild won't hit full stride until a franchise quarterback is identified and selected.

Grier seems to know that, too. He's made clear his franchise quarterback will be intelligent and have the right intangibles to lead this franchise to a more promising day. But he says he doesn't plan to do an NBA-style tanking job to get his guy.