One day after an erroneous report that Chan Gailey would be let go as Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator, head coach Brian Flores said he expects the longtime NFL coach to be back for the 2021 season.
Flores, in fact, said he expected all of his assistants to return next season after he made several changes last offseason.
When it comes to quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, though, Flores didn't have the answer.
"We’ve got to go through a full process, a full evaluation," Flores said Tuesday. "We’ll evaluate offense, defense, special teams and then we’ll create a vision of what we want our team to look like in 2021. You don’t do that one day or two days after the season. ... We’re not going to rush anything. We’re going to take our time with it. Obviously, Fitz, along with all of the free agents, are going to be a part of the conversation because we know them. We’re not going to sit here and say, ‘Hey, we might want to do this, that or the other.’ We’ve got to go through it and be as thorough as possible and try to make the best decisions for this organization.”
The first step in a possible Fitzpatrick return for a third season with the Dolphins is for him to decide whether he wants to continue playing. His contract expires after this season and he'll become an unrestricted free agent in the spring.
Fitzpatrick, who turned 38 in November and has seven children, has said time and time again that what keeps him going is the opportunity to compete, and that time has passed in Miami — particularly with GM Chris Grier declaring Tuesday that Tua Tagovailoa is the team's starting quarterback moving forward.
So from his standpoint, Fitzpatrick would have to be willing to return as a backup from the start of the season, as opposed to 2020 when he began as the starter before the Dolphins made a quarterback switch during their bye in Week 7.
If Fitzpatrick still wants to at least have the chance to be a starter, he'd have to look elsewhere, though there probably aren't many teams where he'd have a legitimate chance of accomplishing that goal.
From the Dolphins perspective, having a quality backup like Fitzpatrick would be valuable and his relationship with Tagovailoa is a good one, but Fitzpatrick also came off the bench to replace the 2020 first-round pick twice and the Dolphins might not want to place Tua in a scenario where he might be looking over his shoulder because of precedent.
As for Gailey, he just completed his first season back in the NFL after a three-year absence.
He was hired last offseason to replace Chad O'Shea, who had joined Flores from New England in 2019. The Dolphins also changed defensive coordinators last offseason, from Patrick Graham to Josh Boyer.
The Dolphins also lost Karl Dorrell shortly after promoting him to assistant head coach/wide receivers coach when he left to become head coach at the University of Colorado.
“Yeah, we expect everyone back," Flores said. "Hopefully you’re not jinxing me now. Last time I said that, we lost Karl Dorrell, we lost Pat Graham, so thanks. (laughter) Hopefully not, though. We expect everyone back.”