Ryan Fitzpatrick continued to defy odds by playing at a high level in 2020, and he served as the best reliever in football for the 10-win Miami Dolphins. The 38-year-old is set to become a free agent, however, and it does not sound like he will continue in that role next season.
Dolphins coach Brian Flores said this week that the team needs to conduct a “full evaluation” before determining if they want Fitzpatrick back in 2021. Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald interpreted that to mean the chances of Fitzpatrick re-signing with the Dolphins are “slim and none.”
That could make sense for both sides. The Dolphins drafted Tua Tagovailoa with the fifth-overall pick last year, and many believed he would be holding a clipboard for his entire rookie season. But even after Fitzpatrick played fairly well, Tagovailoa was still given the starting job after Miami’s bye week. Flores then used Fitzpatrick late in games when he seemingly didn’t trust the rookie, but how long can that continue?
If the Dolphins keep Fitzpatrick around next season and continue to use him as a closer, that would almost certainly shake Tagovailoa’s confidence. Even if Flores proved the approach can be effective, it is probably not one that upper management would sign off on for another season.
Miami has already undergone a significant change this offseason, and that may have had something to do with Tagovailoa’s development. Getting Tua to a spot where he can be a trusted full-time starter should be the goal for the Dolphins this offseason. That may be easier to accomplish if he doesn’t have to think about sharing snaps with Fitzpatrick in 2021.