The Miami Dolphins have a decision to make on Tua Tagovailoa and it appears as though their collective minds are all but made up.
With the Dolphins' season coming to an abrupt end Saturday night in Kansas City, rumors swirl like the wind at Arrowhead as to whether or not Tagovailoa is the right person to be under center for years to come and whether or not he should be given a long-term deal.
In my opinion, they should sign Tagovailoa to a long-term contract as Tua is among the best young quarterbacks in the National Football League. He is also the best quarterback that the Miami Dolphins have had since Dan Marino hung up his cleats years ago, bar none.
In 2023 Tagovailoa led the league with 4,624 passing yards. He also threw for 29 touchdowns. He did this with both of his main weapons Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle missing time with various nagging injuries. The running game, which the Dolphins use to open up the passing assault, was also besieged with injuries late in the season to Raheem Mostert and De'Von Achane. With those two sidelined, the teams could play with two high safeties and take Waddle and Hill out of their game.
This appears to be an long-term engagement that the parties want to see end in marital bliss.
"So the goal is to have him here long term playing at a high level. That’s always the goal and we’ll continue to communicate with him through the offseason here," General Manager Chris Grier stated on Monday in the post-season press conference. "Like we’ve always said in the past, you guys know me, we don’t really talk in the media through all that stuff, so we’ll just keep all those talks internal and with his reps.”
After the loss in Kansas City, Tagovailoa said that the contract is the furthest thing from his mind and that he just wanted to concentrate on the team.
“I’m not worried about that right now. Right now, this is a moment for the guys in that locker room and our team to be with one another, to sulk in this and learn from it," Tua said. “I don’t feel any pressure at all. I have full trust in myself. I have full trust in what I’m capable of doing for our organization, but outside of that, we’re focusing on tonight and what happened. We’re going to simmer on this and see what we can do to get better from it for next year.”
Grier really has no option this off-season, but to offer a lucrative long-term deal to their number one signal caller. They do not want to go through another draft looking for a quarterback, especially when they draft 21st in the first round. Mike White and Skylar Thompson are not what I would call franchise quarterbacks.
Franchise quarterbacks do not grow on trees and talented players like Tagovailoa do not come along very often. When Miami invested a first-round pick on him coming out of Alabama, they made a wise decision. Now they must make another wise decision and keep Tua here for the long haul.
The Dolphins have gone the veteran retread route with serviceable players such as Ryan Fitzpatrick, Teddy Bridgewater, Jay Fiedler and the like. They cannot afford to make another mistake and allow another budding young superstar to leave and continue to develop somewhere else.
They need to invest in Tua and keep protecting him so he can have more than two seconds to get rid of the ball. There is talk about how quick Tua's release is, but in all reality, it has to be due to the makeshift offensive line that the Dolphins have been forced to use due to injuries to Terron Armstead and Connor Williams.
Patrick Mahomes consistently gets more than four seconds in the pocket and there are times that Tua needs additional time to connect with his stud receivers. The offensive line play has to get better and more healthy in order for the Dolphins to get the most out of their young quarterback.
There is no veteran quarterback that will be available in free agency that can do the things that Tua does, especially with his age and his room for growth.
"I think he has developed in some – like buying extra time when necessary. I think that will continue to improve where you can just maybe move off the spot a little bit and not necessarily run for a first down, but you can extend the play," Coach Mike McDaniel said. "I think those things improve with a lot of things – the continuity of an offensive line group that you learn where guys are generally blocking from the launch point, and so then you know your safe spot is in the pocket. All these things, it’s all about progression. I think he just needs to continue to do what he has been doing in terms of progressing and I’ll be very much happy with that.”
Grier seems to agree and he appears to be amenable to keeping Tua for the distant future.
“We’ve had conversations," Grier said. "Like we said, we wouldn’t talk throughout the season in terms of contract stuff, but we’ve stayed in touch with his agent and had good conversations throughout the year. We never talking about money or anything, just good conversations about where he is and the relationship with Mike (McDaniel) and the team here and everything he’s done."
There are always two sides to any debate, even when there shouldn't be one. Gaston Rubio took a look at the other side of this coin. Read that here.