It’s been a long time since the Dolphins—who last won a playoff game in 2000—entered a season with anything in the way of expectations. But even after their failed (not to mention highly illegal) pursuit of Tom Brady, Miami should, at the very least, be entertaining, armed with a new, offensive-minded head coach (Kyle Shanahan protégé Mike McDaniel) and one of the game’s most explosive deep threats in Tyreek Hill. Sitting down with former ESPN personality Dan Le Batard, now of DraftKings and Meadowlark Media, McDaniel recalls the moment he learned Hill, following failed extension talks with Kansas City, was available, pleading for GM Chris Grier to get him on the next flight to Miami.
“Chris [Grier] walks in. ‘So I just got a call from the Chiefs, talking about Tyreek Hill.’ And I’m like, ‘What?! Tell them they can have everything,’” said McDaniel, who spent last year as Shanahan’s offensive coordinator in San Francisco. “It’s not like I was watching Tyreek the way that I evaluate free agents. I thought he was untouchable.”
The trade came together quickly with Miami acquiring Hill for five draft picks including a 2022 first-rounder the Chiefs would ultimately trade to New England (they moved up eight spots to select Washington cornerback Trent McDuffie). Hill was subsequently signed to a four-year, $120-million extension, making him the highest-paid non-quarterback in NFL history.
“There was a point in the process where it was like, you might have to kind of win Tyreek over to get him to accept the trade. There were a couple of teams interested,” said McDaniel. “Chris Grier’s at a Pro Day at Ohio State. He shows me the phone and says talk to [Tyreek]. So I get on the phone and I immediately go into recruit mode, like hyper-speed.”
McDaniel didn’t get very far in his recruiting pitch, with Hill cutting him off after only 20 or 30 seconds. “I’m going HAM. This is all I got. I’m shooting every shot that I have, deep into it,” said McDaniel. “Then all of a sudden, he’s like, ‘Coach, I’m coming.’ It was already done. I was like, What?!’”
It’s been an eventful offseason for the Dolphins, who in addition to landing Hill, were the subject of a highly-publicized tampering scandal and are also being sued for racial discrimination by their former coach Brian Flores. Many see this as a make-or-break year for quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who, through two seasons, has underwhelmed, facing questions about his durability and arm strength. Miami hosts New England in its season opener September 11th at Hard Rock Stadium.