Do it, Chris Grier.
Trade for Bradley Chubb.
Get the pass rusher this defense lacks, the front-seven havoc-maker every contending team needs and the fourth-quarter closer every quarterback fears.
The NFL’s trade deadline is Tuesday, and Chubb is the big name left on the market after a loud Monday. Grier, the Miami Dolphins general manager, has to be at least tempted by the possibilities if the cost isn’t a first-round pick, as one league source said it definitely won’t be.
Baltimore reportedly got Chicago linebacker Roquan Smith for second- and fifth-round picks (and a linebacker) Monday to shore up their leaky defense (and offer the Dolphins a well-scheduled game in Chicago on Sunday). Smith leads the league in tackles and ranks second in tackles over the past five years.
That’s the kind of move aspiring teams make, the kind the Dolphins should be considering themselves. It helps set the market for other moves, too.
Chubb isn’t as productive or healthy as Smith. But he plays a different role, and his 5 ½ sacks this season wouldn’t just lead the Dolphins. It would nearly lap them, as second-year edge rusher Jaelan Phillips leads the team with three sacks.
Did you see Detroit quarterback Jared Goff survey the field while sipping tea in Sunday’s first half? What happened to the Dolphins’ blitzing pass rush led the way to a second-half resurgence last year?
The Dolphins rank tied with four teams for 19th in the league with 15 sacks. That doesn’t tell the full story, though, as they have the sixth-most passes thrown against their defense. They rank 26th in sacks-per-attempt.
If it’s natural to say the Dolphins need help in the secondary with safety Brandon Jones out for the year and cornerback Bryon Jones not coming through the door yet, it doesn’t seem there’s an impact defensive back on the market.
There’s an impactful pass rusher who can lessen the burden on the secondary, though. Chubb can bring the Dolphins defense what no player has since Cameron Wake. He can be that insurance commercial character “Mayhem,” who causes cars to crash, houses to topple and parties to crumble.
There’s no reason Phillips won’t be that kind of player with time. Maybe Emmanuel Ogbah finds his game, gets his recently injured back healthy or solves whatever has limited him to one sack in seven games and zeroes across the stat sheet against Detroit.
The Ogbah issue is compounded by the four-year, $65 million contract the Dolphins signed him to last offseason. His $13 million signing bonus can be dealt with if you move on. The $16 million due him next year is another matter.
That’s just one legitimate hurdle in trading for Chubb. How do you fit him into a salary structure when you just paid Ogbah to be that guy? That’s a legitimate move.
The trade cost? Well, again, Baltimore’s trade helps sets that. Consider, too, Denver general manager George Paton traded Von Miller for a second- and third-round pick last year to the Los Angeles Rams in a similar situation.
“Miller was older, but Chubb has health issues,’ the source said.
Chubb is just 26, just in his fifth year, but only played four games in 2019 and seven games last year due to injury. Another reason the price won’t be prohibitive in this deal.
This would be the Tyreek Hill trade for the defense. The pass rush is missing this season. Veteran Melvin Ingram looked to provide a spark in September. He had four total tackles in October.
Is the beat-up secondary not making quarterbacks hold the ball? Is the blitzing strategy that worked last year not happening?
The real question for the Dolphins is this: How close are they to contending for the Super Bowl? If their self-scouting says they’re close, if they think this team can take some final steps of consistency, then Chubb is the kind of player you grab now and figure how to pay later.
He is Mayhem on a defense without that element. Do it. Make the trade.