Mike McDaniel says he wants Christian Wilkins and Tua Tagovailoa back

The Miami Dolphins head coach used his turn at the lectern by speaking publicly about the contract negotiation status of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and and defensive tackle Christian Wilkins.

Talks with Tua Tagovailoa's representatives have been progressing as the team and Tagovailoa work towards a contract extension that would keep the QB in Miami for the foreseeable future and also lower his cap number for 2024.
Talks with Tua Tagovailoa's representatives have been progressing as the team and Tagovailoa work towards a contract extension that would keep the QB in Miami for the foreseeable future and also lower his cap number for 2024. / David Eulitt/GettyImages
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The Dolphins are very comfortable in their respective positions with Tua Tagovailoa and Christian Wilkins.

Coach McDaniel is optimistic about resigning Tagovailoa to a contract extension.

When speaking in particular about the negotiations with the quarterback, Mike McDaniel was very optimistic.

""Absolutely," Mike McDaniel said Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine. "One of the cool things in this organization is how communicative and how well I work with (general manager) Chris Grier. As well as how I can separate what my job is, and what his job is, and how we move forward. I'm very encouraged. Both Tua's representation and our organization are hard at work. Those timelines are impossible to predict.""

Mike McDaniel, Dolphins Head Coach

Tagovailoa expressed confidence earlier in the week that a long-term deal would get done sooner than later, and it was comforting to hear management echo the same sentiments. Tagovailoa led the NFL in passer rating and total passing yards, but has also been injury prone, so the team is taking this negotiation very delicately.

The Dolphins know that Tagovailoa's strengths are his accuracy and quick release. They will cater to his needs and take into consideration his wants and needs to make the offense more productive. Could that mean that they get him an offensive player in the first round? Only time will tell, but McDaniel has not ruled out getting him everything he needs to succeed.

""My main concern this offseason has been communicating what Tua needs from his head coach and his offensive coaching staff, which is, what things can we identify to continue the progression of your game the same way that we have," McDaniel said."

Mike McDaniel, Dolphins Head Coach

McDaniel has total confidence in his quarterback and will do whatever it takes to get everyone to buy into what Tagovailoa brings to the table.

""Since day one, my belief has always been strong," McDaniel said. "From day one. And it's stronger than it was the first day I met him. And that's because of that relationship, where I'm focused, which is continuing to provide the coaching so he can continue to evolve this game.""

Mike McDaniel, Dolphins Head Coach

McDaniel said that it was important for Tagovailoa to play an injury-free season as it marked the first time in his entire career that he played in every game. The playoff game was a bonus and gave him even more reps to learn from.

McDaniel equally optimistic about Wilkins signing a new contract and not just getting tagged by March 5.

Christian Wilkins
Christian Wilkins representatives are in deep discussions with the Dolphins front office representatives about a long-term contract that will keep the DT in Miami in a cap-friendly deal. / Brandon Sloter/GettyImages

When asked if he expects Wilkins to be back, McDaniel was very short and almost terse in his answer.

""Yeah, I hope so. Don't you? We'll see. But, excited for Christian's opportunity that he's earned. We love good players, and we'd love to have him back.""

Mike McDaniel, Dolphins Head Coach

Wilkins, a first-round draft choice out of Clemson in 2019, came to Miami at the beginning of the rebuilding process. Contract talks went nowhere at the end of the 2022 season and Wilkins played out his option year. That is why we are at the 11th hour with the Dolphins either getting Wilkins to sign a long-term deal or tag him for one more season at an ugly cap number of just over $22 million.

South Florida-based agent Drew Rosenhaus, who does not represent Wilkins, said yesterday that he believes that it is more important to get Wilkins' deal done first because he is an unrestricted free agent. The Dolphins have one more year with Tagovailoa and it appears as though the negotiations are progressing nicely.

"“Well, I would say right now, because they still have Tua under contract and his fifth-year option year, and Christian Wilkins is not under contract, I would think the greater timing would be to get Wilkins done,” Drew Rosenhaus said. “At the end of the day, the Dolphins should sign both guys. And they’re both very important. And I would say they’re equally important to the team. Timing-wise, they might work on Wilkins first. And I believe if a deal is not in place, the Dolphins will use the franchise tag on that stud. He’s an unbelievable talent and an All-Pro defensive tackle.”"

Drew Rosenhaus, Miami Based Agent