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David Garrard's release means there's no turning back for Dolphins

Ryan Tannehill had a 66.9 rating in four preseason games. (Lynne Sladky/AP)

A few short weeks ago, David Garrard appeared to have the inside track on the Miami Dolphins' starting QB job. Now, just five days before the Dolphins open their season in Houston, Garrard does not even have a spot on the roster.

The 34-year-old Garrard is set to be cut by Miami, according to Jay Glazer (and more or less confirmed, via Twitter, by Garrard himself). Garrard underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on Aug. 11, derailing his bid to become the Dolphins' new quarterback, and he may not be ready for game action until Week 2 or beyond.

So from the Dolphins' perspective, with rookie QB Ryan Tannehill in the starting lineup and Matt Moore failing to bring any interest in rumored trade talks, giving Garrard $2.25 million to play the No. 3 role did not make a lot of sense -- that $2.25 million would have been owed Garrard if he was on Miami's roster for Week 1.

In case there were any questions about how committed the Dolphins are to Tannehill, their actions over the past week should erase them. Not only did Miami dangle Matt Moore (6-6 for the team last season) in trade talks, but now it's cut bait on Garrard. Barring an injury to their first-round draft choice, the Dolphins are Tannehill's team, for better or worse, for the 2012 season.

Garrard's future, meanwhile, is a little more up in the air. He'll join quarterbacks like Brian Hoyer and Seneca Wallace on the free agent market -- and his agent's job will be to convince some team that he's worth a gamble.

Garrard has not played a down in the NFL since the 2010 season, after sitting out all of last year with a back injury. When last we saw him, back with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Garrard was posting a 90.8 QB rating and 23 touchdown passes. He seemed to have rediscovered that form early during Miami's training camp, but his health again deserted him.

Is he a safer bet than Wallace? Does he have a higher upside at this point than Hoyer or Mike Kafka? Those are the questions quarterback-needy teams will weigh in the coming days.

This may wind up working out for the best for all parties involved (well, maybe not Moore). The Dolphins can throw Tannehill into the fire so he can help spearhead their rebuilding process, Garrard can find a more stable situation to play in and Tannehill himself can avoid looking over his shoulder in a week or two when Garrard gets back to 100 percent.

There's no point in flip-flopping on the Tannehill move now -- Miami must stick with him. And so Garrard's presence, especially as he battled back from an injury, quickly became unnecessary.

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