The Tunsil Trade One Year Later ... And Why It Still Makes Sense

The Miami Dolphins traded tackle Laremy Tunsil in a mega deal Sept. 1, 2019 and it was part of a massive rebuilding project that appears right on track
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Even though news had leaked out the day before, it was exactly one year ago, on Sept. 1, 2019, that the Dolphins finalized one of the most shocking trades in franchise history.

On that day, they sent emerging star left tackle Laremy Tunsil to the Houston Texans in a mega deal that involved four players and five draft picks.

One year later, it's still hard to argue against the logic of the trade.

For record-keeping purposes, the trade saw the Dolphins acquire first-round picks in 2020 and 2021 and a second-round pick in 2021 along with offensive tackle Julién Davenport and defensive back Johnson Bademosi in exchange for Tunsil, wide receiver Kenny Stills, a 2020 fourth-round pick and a 2021 sixth-round selection.

Unlike other moves they made in the run-up to the 2019 regular season when they set about to change the direction of the franchise by moving on from high-profile players to accumulate cap space and draft capital, the Dolphins weren't necessarily set from the start on trading Tunsil.

This was more a case of the Texans simply making an offer the Dolphins couldn't refuse.

While Stills clearly was the second-best player involved in the trade, this still came down to basically trading Tunsil for three first- or second-round picks.

Now, Tunsil is a good left tackle, but he's not worth three premium picks. Sure, he made the Pro Bowl for the first time in 2019, though he did lead the NFL in penalties and actually might have had a better season for the Dolphins in 2018 — but the Pro Bowl voting being what it is, he first had to make a name before actually getting the votes.

As a reminder, the Dolphins used that 2020 first-round pick into Auburn cornerback Noah Igbinoghene and ironically re-acquired their fourth-round pick from Houston to take guard Solomon Kindley.

Both Igbinoghene and Kindley could end up playing significant roles for the Dolphins in 2020. Bademosi was gone from the Dolphins roster by mid-October last year, but Davenport not only is still with the team, he started eight games last season, including the final seven at left tackle.

But it certainly appears as though it will be first-round pick Austin Jackson, drafted with the draft choice obtained from Pittsburgh in the Minkah Fitzpatrick, who will start at left tackle Sept. 13 against New England. Davenport actually is no lock to make the roster, though head coach Brian Flores praised his progress Tuesday morning.

“He’s made a lot of improvements," Flores said. "He’s stronger. He made a lot of gains in the offseason. His technique, his footwork is a lot better. He’s made a lot of improvement. Obviously he started some games last year. I’ve been very happy with him. I’ve seen a lot of improvement. We’d have no problem putting him in a game.”

This trade, though, was about the draft picks. And there was a financial component as well because Tunsil was headed into his fourth season last September and the Texans ended up giving him a new three-year, $66 million contract in April.

Yes, the Dolphins still could use Tunsil, but to sacrifice having him on the roster, they got a lot of draft picks and saved themselves having to dish out a big contract.

Even though Tunsil likely wasn't part of the planned purge, this move certainly fit in with the big picture.