With Jonathan Abram expected to miss the rest of the season after sustaining a torn rotator cuff and labrum on Monday night, the Raiders are assessing their options at safety.
While the team still has solid depth on the back-end with Karl Joseph, Erik Harris, Curtis Riley and even Dallin Leavitt in tow as capable contributors, it is telling that they’ve reportedly worked out several veteran free agent safeties this week.
None of those free agent defensive backs have been announced as having been signed, however, and with former 11th overall pick Minkah Fitzpatrick reportedly granted permission to seek a trade, the Raiders should give Dolphins’ general manager Chris Grier a call.
The Dolphins have granted permission to DB Minkah Fitzpatrick to seek a trade, according to multiple sources who say Miami's asking price is too high. Dolphins have no comment. Story coming with help from @CameronWolfe— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) September 13, 2019
The Dolphins appear to be tearing down their entire franchise in a Sam Hinkie-esque, “Trust the Process,” manner, and Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock should pounce on the opportunity in front of them.
The second-year Alabama product was nicknamed “Nick Saban’s son” by his college teammates, and brings a nose to the grindstone attitude that fits in perfectly with the Silver & Black. Versatility is his calling card, as Fitzpatrick can line up as an outside corner, nickel, deep safety, box safety or linebacker in a pinch.
While he can play basically any Back-7 position, part of his frustration with the Dolphins is their inability to give him a defined role.
Minkah Fitzpatrick is coming off his worst NFL game. He believes that's partly b/c of position uncertainty. He played 3-4 positions Sunday, and was told his role would continue to change. He's become increasingly frustrated.— Cameron Wolfe (@CameronWolfe) September 13, 2019
Trade not a guarantee right now but permission given.
Touting a 6-foot-1, 207 pound frame, Fitzpatrick is at his best lined up in the slot, as he can capably cover both jitterbug slot receivers and bigger tight ends like Travis Kelce, all while remaining close enough to the line of scrimmage to be an effective run stopper.
With the Raiders trying to move toward a 4-2-5 nickel as their base coverage, adding Fitzpatrick would allow them to thrive in that alignment. It could even allow Paul Guenther’s dime defense to look devastating, putting Lamarcus Joyner, Harris and Joseph all on the field in a 6-DB alignment.
With team’s looking go as fast as possible on defense without sacrificing toughness against the run, a dime alignment with Fitzpatrick in tow could give the Raiders one of the most herculean looks in the league. Imagine how that dime set would look once Abram returns next season?
After the worst game of his career in Week 1 against the Ravens, this might actually be an ideal time for the Raiders to buy low on Fitzpatrick.
Per Sports Info Solutions, Fitzpatrick allowed 0 touchdowns as the primary coverage defender all of last season. Yet, in Week 1 alone, he gave up 3 scores as the primary, suffering the worst game of his football career.
Notes if Minkah Fitzpatrick were traded:— Field Yates (@FieldYates) September 13, 2019
* Under contract through 2021 (plus a fifth-year option)
* Base salary/cap hit in 2019-2021: $1.23M, $1.98M and $2.27M
* Just 22 years old
* Can play either safety spot and slot cornerback
* Recorded 80 tackles, 9 PD and 2 INT as a rookie
As an NFL Media Draft Analyst, Mayock ranked Fitzpatrick as his No. 1 safety in the 2018 draft, ahead of Chargers’ All-Pro Derwin James. After the Dolphins selected him with the No. 11 pick in the draft, Mayock beamed:
“He can literally play any position back there. He’s got free-safety range and I think he can match slots and tight ends. When you talk to Nick Saban about this kid, Nick Saban lights up. Where are you going to play him so he gets around the football more often?”
About 17 months later, Mayock is armed with the capital to acquire Fitzpatrick as not only a franchise building block, but a chess piece who can grow alongside Gareon Conley and Abram.
The Dolphins are reportedly looking for a first-round pick in any trade involving Fitzpatrick, but that offer might not be in the cards with teams looking to buy low.
With two first-rounders this season, the Raiders offering the Dolphins Chicago’s upcoming first round pick in exchange for Fitzpatrick and a third-round pick could get the deal done.
Do you think the Raiders should make this trade?
This poll is closed
Yes, spend their low first round pick to get Fitzpatrick and a pick
Yes, but only for a package of lower round picks, not for either of their top picks
No, no more trades. Just stand pat