Dolphins trade DE Shaq Lawson to Texans for LB Benardrick McKinney
The Miami Dolphins and Houston Texans have a deal.
No, not that deal.
Though Deshaun Watson is staying in the great state of Texas – for now – Miami plucked a quality inside linebacker Sunday.
Benardrick McKinney is headed to South Florida and defensive end Shaq Lawson is going to Houston, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. That person requested anonymity since no trades can become official until the NFL's new league year begins Wednesday afternoon.
There will also be an exchange of late-round picks.
McKinney, 28, was a Pro Bowler in 2018. He was a second-round pick of the Texans in 2015. The Dolphins were in need of a linebacker, particularly after recently cutting high-priced Kyle Van Noy.
McKinney has only 11½ sacks in six seasons but has topped 100 tackles three times. He played only four games last season due to shoulder surgery. He has three years left to go on a 5-year, $50 million contract. His base salaries over the next three years, per Spotrac, are $7 million, $8.8 million and $9.5 million.
McKinney's Pro Football Focus grades in 2016-2019 were: 73.0, 69.0, 80.9 and 67.6.
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Lawson, 26, played fairly well in the first year of a 3-year, $30 million contract. His base salaries are $8.4 million and $8.9 million over the next two years, per Spotrac. He is a pass rusher capable of rushing with his hand on the ground or standing up in an outside linebacker role.
Lawson's Pro Football Focus grades in 2017-2020 were: 65.3, 76.5, 68.2 and 70.9.
The Dolphins might feel they are better positioned to add a player with Lawson's skill set in free agency and/or the draft than they would have to add a linebacker that should fit as well as McKinney.
The production and evaluations of McKinney and Lawson's careers are not dissimilar. McKinney has a reputation as an aggressive and physical thumper. This is a player who can help the Dolphins against the run.
Among the players on Miami's roster now who can play defensive end are Emmanuel Ogbah, Christian Wilkins, Raekwon Davis and Zach Sieler. Miami might also have hope for Jason Strowbridge, who was a late-round pick in 2020.
Among the players who can play linebacker are Jerome Baker, Andrew Van Ginkel and Sam Eguaveon. Elandon Roberts, Kamu Grugier-Hill and Vince Biegel are all free agents, so this was a position of need.
It is possible the Dolphins pursue a feared pass rusher in free agency, which opens Monday. Players can officially sign starting Wednesday.
Among the top free agent pass rushers available are Shaq Barrett, Yannick Ngakoue, Haason Reddick, Bud Dupree, Trey Hendrickson and Carl Lawson.