Ryan Tannehill of the Miami Dolphins drops back to pass in a game against the New York Jets. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
Ryan Tannehill might require season-ending surgery on his left knee. Then again, he declined a repair last year.
While the facts of the prognosis settle in for the Miami Dolphins, hindsight is blinding. Tannehill's injury might well have been avoided had he opted for ACL surgery last year when he suffered a partial tear of his MCL and ACL.
Letting the injury heal over the next two months and attempting to play on an unstable limb keeps Tannehill on the field and the Dolphins in precarious waters.
Hitching their wagon to the 29-year-old Tannehill equates to risking the season on his wobbly knee.
Here are six other options for the Dolphins to consider:
1. Alex Smith, Chiefs
Photo by Erik Williams/UPI
Where have we seen this before?
In 2016, Teddy Bridgewater and the playoff-hopeful Minnesota Vikings saw their expectations crumble to the field during a non-contact play during training camp. Bridgewater tore his ACL and dislocated the same knee, and he still isn't participating in on-field drills with the Vikings.
Minnesota traded a first-round pick to the Eagles for Sam Bradford, the No. 1 overall draft choice in 2010, and competed in the NFC North until the final week of the season.
Smith, the top pick in the 2005 draft, is the warfare equivalent to a slingshot -- deadly accurate from close range and effective enough to beat most opponents when played perfectly.
The cost would be reasonable compared to some other quarterbacks, but the Chiefs seem legitimately concerned about forcing rookie Patrick Mahomes, the No. 10 pick in the 2017 draft, onto the field too soon. Then again, the Eagles were saying and stressing the same pressure points about playing Carson Wentz this time last year -- and he had less than 40 preseason game snaps when Bradford was traded before Labor Day -- before the Vikings floated a first-round pick.
2. Brock Osweiler, Browns
Photo by Matthew Healey/UPI
Osweiler could walk into the team facility at Davie, Fla., this weekend and pick up the offense without touching a playbook. He lived it in Denver with current Dolphins coach Adam Gase
. Then a Broncos assistant coach, Gase handled a one-on-one workout with the 6-foot-8 QB project before Denver drafted Osweiler in the second round in 2012.
Gase praised Osweiler for his ability to adapt -- his release, role as a backup and work ethic -- almost immediately as an NFL player.
"His biggest thing he was trying to work on was his mechanics and how to be a quarterback. He knew that he had time to do that behind Peyton (Manning)," Gase said in 2016. "That was one of the reasons we wanted to draft him: We knew his work ethic was off the charts. We knew he was smart. We knew he understood his role that was going to happen in the organization.
"He was the right guy for that kind of role for us, but we had great confidence he was going to be the next guy for us as well. It just worked out different than probably a lot of people foresaw."
Osweiler is competing for a roster spot in Cleveland after a crash-and-burn season with the Houston Texans. A fourth team in two years might be a label Osweiler could accept if it meant reuniting with Gase.
3. Jay Cutler, FOX broadcasting
Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
It's fair to contemplate whether Gase's intimate familiarity with Cutler -- as a person, as a flammable surveyor of sideline still shots, as a hot-cold-hotter-colder quarterback -- works for or against Cutler.
When interest from actual football teams was limited to a poke test from the New York Jets this summer, Cutler, not long after being cut by the Bears, decided to join another team -- FOX's broadcast crew -- and will call the Week 1 Chicago-Atlanta game at Soldier Field, according to the network.
However, if Gase is willing to present Cutler an opportunity to start at, say, $10 million for a playoff contender, would he drop the mic and pick up a helmet?
4. Tony Romo, CBS broadcasting
Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Romo sounded half-committed when he was introduced by CBS as the new No. 1 analyst alongside Jim Nantz
, bumping Phil Simms
to the studio show much as Dak Prescott
pushed Romo aside.
The well-played scenario for Romo's return -- even Dallas QB coach Wade Wilson admits he has done it -- was the vision of him returning to save the Cowboys after an injury at the position forced the team's hand.
But if the Dolphins find the magic words and enough money, might Simms get his gig back and Romo ride into South Florida for one final season?
A QB-friendly offense that lifted Tannehill to new levels of respect and performance -- including a completion percentage better than Aaron Rodgers' -- could be enticing.
5. Mike Glennon, Bears
Chicago Bears quarterback Michael Glennon sings "Take Me Out to the Ball Game". Photo by Kamil Krzaczynski
Does anyone other than Glennon believe the Bears when they say "Mike Glennon is our starting quarterback"?
Chicago shifted fault lines and sacrificed half of its draft to move up one spot in April and select Mitch Trubisky, the unproven, one-year starter from North Carolina and the by-default top-ranked passer in a draft most agreed was without a franchise-changer at the position.
To hear general manager Ryan Pace tell the story, Glennon (guaranteed $16.5 million to sign a three-year deal in March) is the right fit for the Bears this season.
That narrative could change should the Dolphins decide that surrendering a first-round pick, or even a second-rounder with future picks thrown in, is worth it to get Glennon.
6. Colin Kaepernick, free agent
Photo by John Mabanglo/European Press Agency
His 2016 statistics match up quite favorably to Tannehill's, and Kaepernick's ability to run and escape pressure are excellent traits when paired with a play-action-fueled running game led by Jay Ajayi
. The Dolphins are not exceptional on the offensive line, but Kaepernick knows all about that, having survived last season behind the 49ers' front five.
Owner Stephen Ross is on the record as saying Kaepernick should be considered by any team he can help win, regardless of his outspokenness on social issues. Then again, several owners seem to think Kaepernick should be on an NFL roster, and he remains unemployed.