NFL trade grades: Dolphins abandon team building for win-now mode

Miami made a trade deadline splash to acquire linebacker Bradley Chubb as they seek to transform from builders into AFC contenders.

Video Transcript

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Let's talk about all the fun and adventure that we saw from the NFL's trade deadline. We're not going to talk about all these acquisitions, but I will talk about a handful that impacted me in a good little bit, right, that made me feel a certain kind of way. We're going to start off with what the Miami Dolphins were doing, man. And you just got to applaud those dudes. You got to give them big salutes there because they quickly flipped the switch from team building into win-now mode, right?

Going into the season-- not even this season necessarily, right, but just the vibe surrounding the Dolphins is, is Tua Tagovailoa going to be the guy? Well, head coach Mike McDaniels, you would think that it would take a minute for him to build his culture and build his playbook and get everybody acclimated to that. But, no, they hit the ground running. And with Mike McDaniels being somewhat of an offensive genius, one of these new 30-year-old offensive coordinators, that unlocks Tua Tagovailoa.

You get Tyreek Hill, you go and draft Waddle, and all of a sudden, your offense is good to go. But now you are the Miami Dolphins, and you have this offense that you feel like can score with any team in the National Football League. The only thing that you do now to make yourself a super duper contender is to build your defense. So trading for Bradley Chubb, right, Pro Bowler, former Denver Bronco.

And Denver Broncos are in a weird situation to where he was going to walk next year, right? He was either going to walk or they were going to dole out some big money to him. So Bradley Chubb gets his money. The Denver Broncos get some picks. And, look, they need those picks because this Russell Wilson thing ain't really working out the best. So they definitely need those.

And if you're the Miami Dolphins in this win-now mode, you get to add a Pro Bowl piece to your defense that's going to help further push you down the line of Super Bowl contention there. Shouts out to them. And, look, it's not just that they're in Super Bowl contention, man, or it's not just that they're a contender, but they're in the AFC. They're in the same division with the Bills, and they're in the same conference with the Chiefs. You got to slow them dudes down somehow. Miami Dolphins did a good thing there.

The next pick that I find interesting was, hey, who expected TJ Hockenson to get moved from the Lions? Now it's interesting. I was just looking at the Lions the other day, and the Lions are a team to where I feel like they have a fantastic set of talent on offense, but they may be a couple of pieces away. They may be a quarterback away, right?

And when I look at the Lions, I go, man, if those dudes get the first overall pick and get CJ Stroud, the Lions could be amazing on offense next year. But they trade away one of their pieces in TJ Hockenson. Now if TJ Hockenson doesn't fit what you're trying to do in your offense, cool. Then take those picks that the Vikings sent you, and go do something that's going to work out in your favor.

But the Minnesota Vikings, they are in win-now mode. They lost Irv Smith, so he's not going to be playing tight end for them. And the Vikings, hey, if you got Kirk Cousins, and you got Thielen and Jefferson and Dalvin Cook as a running back for you, and you just happen to be, what, they're like the second place team in the NFC right now, of course you want to continue to build on whatever dominance you've been putting out on the field, right?

Now can the Vikings sustain this "I only lost one game in nine weeks" type of deal? Of course, we'll have to cross that road whenever we get there. But the best way to keep winning football games is to make your team a little bit better. And adding TJ Hockenson to the Vikings just absolutely did that for you.

And the one that was a bit of a head scratcher-- I mean, you know somebody loves you. But when I saw reports that the Chicago Bears had acquired Chase Claypool, I was like, huh, hold the phone. Shouts out to the Chicago Bears, right? As a Cowboy fan, I had just run into that team. And I know that the Chicago Bears are relatively formidable with a quarterback like Justin Fields, but they just need some help for him. Justin Fields just need a little bit of talent around him, right?

So, hey, why don't you give up whatever little draft compensation to get you a Chase Claypool to make that offense a little bit better for Justin Fields? And then right after me thinking it was a good idea, I saw that it was a second-round pick, and I went, hmm. That may have been a little bit much for me.

Chase Claypool seems to have been a guy that benefited from having a good Ben Roethlisberger. But when good Ben Roethlisberger went bad, Chase Claypool looked a little different. When Ben Roethlisberger retired, Chase Claypool looked a little worse. Now what's interesting is I think Chase Claypool got moved because, one, that's what Pittsburgh seems to do, right? Pittsburgh is a fantastic wide receiver drafting organization, and they're a fantastic wide receiver developing organization, right? And then they take some of these dudes, and they trade them around and they get picks for them.

So if you're going to trade around picks to give away Chase Claypool, it is interesting that the Bears gave away picks to do that. Because the dude that came into the Pittsburgh Steelers that's better than Chase Claypool, that made them move on from Chase Claypool, is a guy like George Pickens, who is better than Chase Claypool just in my personal opinion. And the weird part about it is that the Bears, instead of using that second-round pick to draft a guy like George Pickens, who could have been better than Chase Claypool, they simply gave the second-round pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers for Chase Claypool.

And now that Chase is on your team, you have to pay him at some point. And you're likely going to have to overpay for Chase Claypool when you could have gotten a cheaper version of that, which probably he would have been better than that player. I don't know. It's weird to me. It's weird to me. That's the one trade that kind of didn't make sense in the grand scheme of things.

If I was the Bears, I would have tried to just hold on to my picks and go into the draft and just try to make my team better with those two first-round-- with those two second-round picks, pardon me, with their second-round pick and the second-round pick that they gave up, or that they gained for giving up Roquan Smith. It wasn't the exact route that I would have gone, but they went that route.

The trade deadline was a pretty interesting one. I even liked the Jags trade, the Falcons sending Calvin Ridley to the Jaguars there. That's not going to be a trade for this year, but it's definitely going to be a thing that we look forward to. Trevor Lawrence is a quarterback that's going to continue to develop, and what he needs is receivers. I'm sure they're going to draft one, and Calvin Ridley is going to be the other.