Perhaps it is the time of the year when football boredom has kicked in. Or maybe Miami Dolphins fans aren’t used to their team being one of the preferred destinations of one of the league’s embattled superstars. But the amount of trade talk amongst the fan base about Tua Tagovailoa is beginning to border on ridiculous.
Ever since the unhappy rumblings coming from Deshaun Watson in Houston began, the Dolphins have been linked to the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback. There was a time before the draft when Miami had a treasure chest full of young and future assets, and there were rumors locally and nationally about Watson making Miami one of his preferred destinations. There was nothing that was off of the table when it came to speculation, including having Tagovailoa being the centerpiece of a return package.
There is no reason that the Miami Dolphins should trade Tua Tagovailoa, and certainly not in exchange for Deshaun Watson
Plenty was made of the rumors in the media, but there was never any official indication from the Dolphins’ camp that they were interested in acquiring Watson.
And there shouldn’t be. The Miami Dolphins should not trade Tua Tagovailoa, and especially not for Deshaun Watson.
While the “experts” and analysts spent an entire off season questioning the ability of Tagovailoa to be the long term answer for Miami at quarterback, no one knows the 23-year-old better than the Dolphins’ coaching staff. They have not only been monitoring his progression in rehabbing his college hip injury, they have been in charge of it. They know his limitations, what he can and can’t do, and what he will be able to do once he is 100 percent healthy.
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Head coach Brian Flores proved that he was aware of those limitations in the multiple benchings that Tagovailoa received throughout his rookie season. But apparently he and general manager Chris Grier are confident enough that Tua has overcome those issues, as they have made clear through their every move that they are building around the second-year quarterback.
Instead of packaging Tagovailoa along with future draft assets in an attempt to land Watson (or any other big name QB), the Dolphins surrounded him with the weapons that he will need in order to succeed. After moving down from the 3rd overall pick in the 2021 draft and acquiring extra first round selections, they used some capital to move back up and select wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, who has plenty of familiarity with Tua. In the second round, they picked an offensive lineman to protect him. Then Miami used a third round pick to select a tight end to add to the arsenal. In free agency, they added long-ball threat Will Fuller for much-needed help in taking the top off of the defense.
Filling the roster is obviously an occurrence for every team each off season, but the capital that was used to surround Tua with help is the very capital that could have been used in a trade for Watson.
As for the financial aspect of the whole situation, keeping Tagovailoa would give the Dolphins tons more cap flexibility. One of the current formulas for winning a Super Bowl is to have a quarterback on a cheap, rookie contract that allows you to spend money in other places. The Seahawks won under this formula, as they were able to build an all-time defensive unit with the money they saved on a young Russell Wilson. The Chiefs paid Patrick Mahomes just a shade under $2 million the year that he brought home the Super Bowl trophy. It is not the only blueprint that works, but it is certainly an option, and one the Dolphins are likely going to try out.
Sure, taking on Deshaun Watson would instantly make Super Bowl contenders out of the Dolphins, but they’d be strapped financially for years to come if things didn’t work out for whatever reason.
There is also the teeny, tiny little detail about Watson’s issues with the law. He currently has over 20 sexual misconduct allegations against him, ones that have not yet been resolved. Watson’s future not only with the Texans is in jeopardy, but whether he is able to play football freely in the near future is also in question. Giving up all of the assets that you’ve acquired for a guy who could miss a significant portion of his prime years would be career suicide for whichever coach or GM decided to make the move. There is no reason to believe that either Flores or Grier wants to be that guy.
Like him or not, Tua Tagovailoa is going to be the Week 1 starting quarterback for the Miami Dolphins. Okay, so his rookie season didn’t blow you out of the water. You were put off by his low statistical output and the glaring fact that he was benched in favor of Ryan Fitzpatrick not once, but twice. These facts are of course concerning, but the context is always important. Take in to consideration the condensed offense due to the lack of big play weapons and the absence of any real off season programs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the picture of Tagovailoa’s rookie season becomes a bit more clear. Throw in the success of the player selected immediately after Tua and we can see where some of the impatience and second-guessing come in to play.
Write it down. Remember it. Bookmark me. Tua Tagovailoa is not getting traded.