Before the 2024 NFL new year arrives in March, the Miami Dolphins may very well have already locked down Tua Tagovailoa for the next five years.
Many fans do not believe that Tua Tagovailoa is worth the $200 million contract that he is going to receive this off-season. The other side believes he is worth more but those glasses need to be cleaned.
The Dolphins have Tua under contract at just over $24 million in 2024. They should make him play on it. Last year, the concern was concussions. That wasn't a problem this year as Tua started every game. Tua boasted the best passing yards in the NFL in 2023 and finished the year with a rating above 100.
In normal situations this is the kind of production that should warrant talk of a new contract. That isn't the case with Tua Tagovailoa.
Tua didn't play well on Saturday night but that happens. You don't hold back a contract because of a bad game. Yet, Tua has had several bad games this year despite leading the league in passing yards.
Without Tyreek Hill, Tua struggles. When the first read isn't available, Tua is quick to check off to the 2nd read but if that isn't there, he loses his focus. Tua can't make plays by creating time. Instead, he rushes the ball, takes a sack, or becomes so unaware of the situation that he makes mistakes.
Many will blame Mike McDaniel for horrible play calling and that does play into it. Several times this year, however, we have seen the Dolphins needing 15-plus yards and Tua dumping it short when his first two reads are covered. We have seen this on 4th down with the game on the line as well.
Against the Ravens, Tua needed more than 15 yards on a 4th down. He opted to run the ball and slide instead of throwing the ball deep with the hopes of making a play. Tua has a problem extending plays.
Part of this is due to the offensive line play while some of it is on Tua himself. Regardless, the Dolphins have to think about whether or not Tua has shown enough to warrant a big extension. So far he has not. Not completely. The reality is, there are still lingering questions about his game, and for the Dolphins, they have to decide if those problems are a concern or not.
Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert have both already been extended and you could argue that Herbert is not worth the money. That same argument will be made when Tua gets his extension. He simply doesn't deserve it yet.
Tua's statistics are good but how many of those stats come from tertiary reads or from buying more time in and out of the pocket and allowing his receivers to get open when a play breaks down? Very few and frankly, I can't think of many instances where Tua created a big play on his own.
Personally, I'm not convinced. This year, his record against winning teams was horrible. They won, 1 game all year against a team above .500 and that wasn't because Tua played great. Instead, when Miami needed to step up offensively, it was Tyreek Hill and the Dolphins rushing game that made the needed plays. When it was put on Tua's shoulders to win, he didn't.
Tua has finished his fourth NFL season. He has one playoff start, led the team to the playoffs last year, and spent his first two seasons dealing with unwarranted drama thanks to his head coach. The problem is we still don't know if Tua is a franchise QB or just a better than average QB who plays well when everything around him is going right.
That for me is the issue. When things are going well, Tua is at his best but when things are not, Tua has not shown the ability to lift the team around him. That is the making of a great QB and that is not what we have seen from Tua so far. Because of that, I would take my chances and see what he can do next year before I shell out a franchise-changing contract that very well may hinder the immediate future of the franchise.