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Why the Miami Dolphins should already be targeting Marcus Mariota next offseason

Through two weeks of the 2019 NFL season, the Miami Dolphins have been the worst team in football. The team looked miserable on Sunday against the New England Patriots. Miami’s quarterbacks were intercepted four times, and two of those turnovers were returned for defensive scores. It’s no wonder a young player like Minkah Fitzpatrick asked to be traded so soon.

The Dolphins acquired their two current quarterbacks this offseason. The team signed veteran journeyman, Ryan Fitzpatrick to a two-year, $11 million deal. His competition for the starting job was Josh Rosen, who Miami acquired from Arizona for a second and a fifth-round pick. Entering his second year in the NFL, there was hope that Rosen would develop into a starting-caliber quarterback.

Both quarterbacks have been a disaster so far. Fitzpatrick has been so bad that head coach Brian Flores hasn’t been able to leave him in for an entire game. Instead, Flores is pressured to put Rosen in, and the former first-round pick has performed just as poorly.

So far, Fitzpatrick has completed 50% of his pass attempts for 274 yards, one touchdown, and four interceptions. In a similar sense, Rosen has completed 38.1% of his pass attempts for 102 yards and two interceptions. Most teams wouldn’t want either of these two quarterbacks as backups right now, but they’re splitting time down in Miami.

Marcus Mariota is slated to become a free agent at the end of this season. The second overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft is currently playing under his rookie contract’s fifth-year option in Tennessee. Depending on how the season goes, Mariota might end up staying with the Titans. However, there is a viable chance that both he and Jameis Winston will be free agents this coming spring.

While Mariota hasn’t turned into the Pro Bowler that the Titans hoped he would be, the former Heisman Trophy winner is leagues above Fitzpatrick and Rosen. He’s a known entity who has gotten his team to the playoffs in the past. With the other options being drafting a quarterback or sticking with the Fitzpatrick/Rosen combination, Mariota seems like the least risky choice.

Whole Miami should look into college quarterbacks like Jake Fromm, Justin Herbert, and Tua Tagovailoa, there’s a lot of risk that comes with drafting a quarterback. Just look at how Rosen turned out for the Cardinals. College success doesn’t translate perfectly to the NFL.

That makes Mariota more attractive because he’s proven his ability to win at the pro level. At the same time, sometimes taking a risk on a quarterback in the draft pays off. It will all come down to Miami’s philosophy at the end of the season.

If the Dolphins land Mariota, that means they won’t have to pursue a quarterback in the draft. Essentially, that frees up all three first-round picks Miami holds to be used at other needy positions, and the Dolphins have plenty of needs. The offensive line is a mess. The receiving options are mediocre. There isn’t a clear franchise running back. The team doesn’t have a pass rusher either. The Dolphins need as many picks as possible to address these issues.

Of course, for all of this to happen, Miami will have to accept that trading for Rosen was a mistake. Ideally, a team would never move on from a prospect as young as Rosen. However, he has shown no signs that he’s capable of winning or being a starting quarterback in the NFL.

Sure, he’s played on two bad teams, but Kyler Murray doesn’t seem to mind playing in Arizona. It wouldn’t be shocking if Rosen was cut before his rookie contract ends. We saw the same thing happen to Paxton Lynch last year.

Signing Mariota this offseason would give the Dolphins a proven entity at quarterback. It would also free up draft capital to spend at other needy positions. Mariota wouldn’t cost as much as the top quarterbacks in the NFL, so the team would still have money to go after free agents as well.

It’s not a perfect solution, but Miami has hit rock bottom. They have to do something to turn the franchise around this offseason.