MIAMI — What a stinking mess for the Miami Dolphins — and especially Tua Tagovailoa — to be dealing with on the doorstep of the NFL regular season.
The season is supposed to launch with the second-year quarterback feeling super confident and feeling the full faith of his coaches and team. Instead he is being chased not by opposing edge rushers but by Deshaun Watson rumors that have risen anew with very curious timing, indeed.
Who might want this story suddenly in headlines again to his own advantage.
Bill Belichick, perhaps? Hmmm.
So, out of nowhere, on Saturday, Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports “reports” the Dolphins are now front-runners to trade for Watson. (“Reports” in quotes because no source was named).
“Hey, Chuck. Bill. In the mood for a scooop?”
Then Tuesday, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk “reports” it is Dolphins owner Stephen Ross who “really wants” Watson.
“Hey, Mikey. Bill. Not coming from me, but you won’t believe what I heard today ...”
Hey, I’m not saying Belichick did it. Only that he has to be smiling right now as Miami coach Brian Flores Flores puts out brushfires of the capital-D distraction variety and Tagovailoa keeps being given reasons to sort of wonder how committed to him his team really is.
A win-now imperative by Ross would be understandable. He’s 81.
The volley of unnamed sources escalated later Tuesday with the Miami Herald quoting a Dolphins source as saying Ross “does not force football decisions” and that the owner “believes in Tua.”
Yes, and Flores does, too, enough to say this week, “I’m very confident.” But not enough to flatly and unequivocally state the Fins have no interest in trading for Watson. Which means there could be tendrils of interest out there. Maybe. Or not.
And somewhere up in New England right now Belichick is smiling as his Patriots and newly named rookie starting quarterback Mac Jones prepare to host Miami in the regular-season opener.
Whether or not Belichick planted the rumors, they work in his favor.
Meantime, the Houston Texans are demanding three first-round and two second-round draft picks for Watson, an unhappy, great star quarterback in his prime being chased by 22 civil lawsuits and 10 criminal complaints related to alleged sexual impropriety with massage therapists.
It’s a holy mess for the Texans, for the NFL and likely for the team that might trade for him as a lengthy NFL suspension of Watson also looms possible.
And the mess would not be greater than in Miami, where Flores — who makes a habit of always mentioning his high regard for character — would be left scrambling to explain how the criminally beleaguered Watson meets that standard.
For Flores the price of winning on a dice roll with Watson would be all of those high draft picks and also the blatant hypocrisy to set aside the high moral demand for character when the situation suits.
Don’t do it, Dolphins.
Instead, imagine what good use you can make of the three first-round and two second-round draft picks you’ll save.
You selected your quarterback of the future fifth overall last year for a reason.
How about you have a little faith in your own judgment?
Mostly, how about you have a little faith in Tua Tagovailoa?