The Tua Tagovailoa "weight" paradox: Gain it or lose it!

Much has been made this offseason about Tua Tagovailoa needing to lose weight to become more agile and faster while scrambling. However, many people seem to have forgotten the reason he put on weight to begin with. What is an ideal playing weight for the young Miami QB?
2024 NFL Pro Bowl Games
2024 NFL Pro Bowl Games / James Gilbert/GettyImages

During the 2022 season, Tua and the Dolphins got off to a hot start, and people were finally seeing the signal caller for what he was, an accurate, efficient, upper-tier quarterback in the NFL. With two years under a Flores regime that put little emphasis on having an electric, or even mildly entertaining, offensive scheme, Tua was able to show his ability in year one with new head man Mike McDaniel.

That is until a string of injuries led people to question whether or not he should even be playing the game at all. Coming off of a gruesome hip injury in the final season at Alabama, many people wondered if he would ever be the same. Watching him in college and in his rookie season, the answer was muddy. He lacked the same arm strength he showed flashes of in college, his mobility was limited, and he just looked too small. Though there were fears he would reinjure his hip, in 2020 he missed only one game due to a thumb injury suffered at practice. The next season, he broke his ribs in week 2 and missed 3 games, then missed another due to a fractured finger on his throwing hand.

In the 2022 season, he suffered a scary concussion in the Thursday night game in Cincinnati, then another in the Dolphins' collapse against Green Bay on Christmas Day. These injuries led people to question whether he should continue playing the sport

Flash forward to 2023 where Tua put on weight and learned Jiu-Jitsu in the offseason to help prevent injuries, and, low and behold, he played every game this season, leaving the week 17 game against the Bills with a minor shoulder injury. The weight/muscle gain worked right?

Yes! Tua played every game and was very good. He finished in the top 5 of nearly all statistical categories for quarterbacks and proved he can play a full NFL season. However, fans became frustrated at his lack of mobility at times.

Now Tua's offseason plan is to lose weight, and improve his mobility; the same weight he put on to help prevent injuries. The concern is what if he has another injury-riddled season after he loses weight. Assuming the Dolphins extend his contract this offseason, wouldn't that be an issue?

He runs into a dilemma. Lose weight, get faster, but also potentially more prone to injury. Gain weight, become less mobile, but also more protected from certain injuries. With most similar dilemmas, the answer falls somewhere in the middle. Although, Tua, and the discourse around him, has always been a player where very little grey area exists.

I would gladly take a less mobile, healthy Tua over a smaller, faster, potentially more injury-prone Tua. He got up to 238 lbs last offseason before cutting to 225. In his rookie year, he was listed at 217, though I suspect he was closer to 210.

His trainer Nick Hicks (@PER4ORM on X) said in a response to someone trolling about Tua's weight, "The extra weight he was told he had to put on to “keep him safe” will no longer be there. Speed speed speed, agility agility agility is the goal this off-season. Just be patient and you’ll see."

These comments read as though maybe the extra weight from last season was deemed unnecessary and ultimately detrimental to Tua's game with limited evidence that it helped him stay healthy, or, at least, that's my takeaway.

So the question becomes, what is his ideal playing weight? I would say he should stick around 220. Find ways to improve his mobility without costing himself all of the extra weight he spent all of last offseason putting on. He needs to be able to scramble for 10 yards, not 70. Pocket mobility is more important on a team like this with weapons that will get open if given time.

Regardless, Tua has improved every season in the NFL. He is a bright young star in the league, and I would be surprised if he doesn't continue his ascension next season. This year needs to be the year he cements himself as a top 5-10 QB in the league, and I believe he will do just that.

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