The Dolphins made a major decision on Monday, firing coach Brian Flores after three seasons and back-to-back winning records.
ESPN cited a deteriorating relationship with starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa as a major factor in the team's move, but Flores's dismissal could also impact the team's potential pursuit of another quarterback: Deshaun Watson.
Miami has been one of the potential landing spots most frequently linked to Watson. However, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, much of the interest on Watson's end was predicated on the idea of playing for Flores.
Watson has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than 20 women, and is currently embroiled in the resulting legal battle. With the legal situation, and his own disinterest in returning to play for the Texans, the team held him out of action for the entire season, even though he hasn't been suspended by the NFL at this time.
That hasn't stopped teams from reportedly looking into acquiring Watson from Houston, with Miami frequently floated as a potential landing spot, including ahead of the 2021 trade deadline.
Watson's large 2020 contract extension with the Texans includes a no-trade clause, giving him significant say into where he is traded, if a move comes to fruition.
The Watson rumors complicated an up-and-down second season for Tagovailoa, who fought through a mid-season fractured rib injury to return to the team and help lead it to an 8–1 finish to the season. At 9–8, Miami finished half a game out of the AFC wild card picture.
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said Monday that he has "no plans" to pursue Watson and that, "It will be up to the head coach in terms of what he does with the quarterback. As I said before, I have a lot of confidence in Tua, but it’s really going to be dependent on the next head coach and the direction that he wants to take at that position.”
“I don't not feel wanted,” Tagovailoa said, when asked about the Watson rumors in late October.
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross was asked how the quarterback position impacted his decision to move on from Flores, and whether he believes in Tagovailoa as the team's quarterback of the future. He downplayed that part of the situation.
“First of all, let me be clear, it played no role in it at all,” Ross said, via All Dolphins. “I have a lot of confidence in Tua and I think the next head coach will work with him or whoever else. But I have a lot of confidence in him. I watched him grow. He's a fine young man, and he is our quarterback and will be dependent upon our new head coach but I have a lot of confidence in Tua.”
More NFL Coverage:
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- Report: Dolphins Not Targeting Jim Harbaugh Despite Flores Dismissal
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