Losing Johnathan Abram was a massive blow to the Raiders' defense.
The 27th overall draft pick was one of the talks of training camp, and his speed, physicality and energy were on full display in the Raiders' Week 1 win over the Denver Broncos. But the Mississippi State product tore his rotator cuff during the first quarter, and he underwent surgery earlier this week, effectively ending his rookie season after just four quarters.
WIth Abram on the shelf for the season, the Raiders will rely on veterans Erik Harris and Curtis Riley to fill the void left by the talented rookie. But is there another option? One might have presented itself in the form of the sinking ship known as the Miami Dolphins.
As the Dolphins embark on one of the most obvious tank jobs in recent memory, second-year slot corner/safety Minkah Fitzpatrick reportedly has been given permission to seek a trade.
The versatile safety was brilliant in his rookie season, totaling 80 combined tackles, nine passes defensed, two interceptions and one defensive touchdown. Upwards of 20 teams reportedly have reached out to the Dolphins since word of Fitzpatrick's trade request being granted broke, according to CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora. The Dolphins reportedly would like a future first-round draft pick for Fitzpatrick, per La Canfora, but their ask could change based on the market.
A Fitzpatrick trade could happen as soon as this week, NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported Sunday, citing sources.
From @NFLGameDay: Numerous teams are interested in #Dolphins star DB Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Miami could trade him this week... Plus, #Jets QB Sam Darnold's timeline for mono recovery ranges from 3 weeks to 7 weeks. Not good. pic.twitter.com/pHf3wHG2IM— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 15, 2019
Fitzpatrick is upset with his role in Dolphins coach Brian Flores' scheme, as he prefers to play slot corner/ free safety as opposed to strong safety.
The Raiders, of course, signed Lamarcus Joyner in the offseason, and he now occupies the slot corner role in Paul Guenther's defense. But Fitzpatrick, in theory, could slot into the free safety role with Abram out, and the Raiders could figure out the Joyner/Abram/Fitzpatrick/ Karl Joseph dynamic next season.
A first-round pick is a high price to pay, but Fitzpatrick was a first-round pick a year ago, and he has shown he was worthy of his high selection. The Raiders have two first-round picks in the 2020 draft -- owning the Bears' by virtue of the Khalil Mack trade -- but the Silver and Black probably would prefer not to trade either of those selections. While the Bears had a great 2018 season, they reside in a brutal division, and things could go south.
But if the Dolphins would take a first-round pick down the road or a different package of picks that doesn't include one of the 2020 firsts, the Raiders should jump at the opportunity to acquire someone as talented and versatile as Fitzpatrick.
Adding the 22-year-old would give the Raiders a loaded secondary with Fitzpatrick, Abram, 2017 first-round pick Gareon Conley and 2019 second-round pick Trayvon Mullen. That secondary could develop into one of the NFL's best.
Trading for Fitzpatrick will come at a cost, but if it's one the Raiders can stomach, it would end up being a worthwhile coup to grab a guy with Pro-Bowl potential at the age of 22. He can help lessen the blow of losing Abram this season, and then become a staple of the secondary for years to come.