The Miami Dolphins underwent a massive overhaul of their roster this week, but coach Brian Flores is adamant that his team isn't tanking this season and it's still "very important" for them to win in 2019.
After trading away left tackle Laremy Tunsil, receiver Kenny Stills and linebacker Kiko Alonso for future draft picks and role players this weekend, the Dolphins appear to be focused on the future more than the now, and how to further remake this team via the 2020 and 2021 drafts.
But Flores says he plans to have his team ready to compete every Sunday. He passionately doubled down on his plea from February that tanking isn't something that he would ever consider.
"This game means a lot to me. I wouldn't disrespect the game with that. Again, no, we're not. We're going to try to win every game. I think that's disrespectful to even say that," Flores said. "These guys work extremely hard. They've done that all summer. They do it all spring. They'll continue to do so. It's disheartening to hear people talk about it, to even say that. For a guy who respects the game as much as the game has done for me, when people say that, it's extremely sad."
Miami was already set to be in a rebuilding season, with reaching the playoffs considered an uphill challenge, but the trades of Tunsil and Stills made its long-term plan even more drastic than previously thought. When asked how the Tunsil and Stills trades help the Dolphins win in 2019, Flores deferred to the future picks they received in the haul.
"You guys saw the compensation we received in the trade. It was something we couldn't turn down," Flores said. "Kenny is a very talented player, as is Laremy. At the end of the day, we felt we were doing what's best for the team and the organization."
It has become clear that what's considered best for the organization is to plan ahead for 2020 and 2021, even if that's not something Flores can say to his 2019 team.
Flores said he feels good about his team. He believes his players will come out motivated to work hard, fight and band together to try to win.
"It's always important to win. I've always believed that. I think to take any other approach is not how you coach the game," Flores said. "That's not how you play the game. To take any other approach is disrespectful to the game. It's very important."
Flores said he spoke with Tunsil and Stills -- both flew to Houston to start their new journeys with the Texans on Sunday -- about the trade, but preferred to keep those conversations private.
The trade of Stills raised some eyebrows because the receiver is regularly outspoken on issues relating to social injustice. He called out Dolphins owner Stephen Ross for hosting a Donald Trump fundraiser at his home while running a non-profit in RISE that focuses on fighting racism. A couple of weeks later, Stills questioned the way Jay-Z went about establishing his social justice partnership with the NFL. The next day, Flores played eight consecutive Jay-Z tracks at practice in front of the media in what he said was a challenge to get Stills to play better.
But Flores said Sunday that trading Stills was "not at all" related to either incident, and was a matter of the compensation the Dolphins received in the trade.
Flores said Ross has been "very supportive" in the moves that he, general manager Chris Grier and vice president of football administration Brandon Shore have made this offseason.