Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins have mutual extension interest but what is the ceiling for his deal?

When considering a contract extension for Tua Tagovailoa, the Dolphins have to set a ceiling they can't cross.
Jan 13, 2024; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) during the
Jan 13, 2024; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) during the / Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

There is growing speculation that the Miami Dolphins and Tua Tagovailao will reach an extension this off-season and it may come before the start of free agency.

There have been some birds whispering in my ears lately but it isn't concrete and I wouldn't say they are rumors but speculation is a good word. A deal could get done soon as both parties would like to do so. The common idea is that a contract could go as high as $200 million but the Dolphins need to be careful.

Tagovailoa has to get as much as he possibly can and set his family up for the rest of their lives. If we are being honest, Tua's future will always be a question. From concussions to his play that can sometimes be inconsistent, Tua's future is now, as it relates to a contract.

The Dolphins have to also think along these lines so the offer they will put out will be low and the two sides will try and come to an agreement somewhere in the middle. If the Dolphins are smart, they would hold the "Tua needs us more than we need him" card while Tua's camp plays the "Let me show you the starting QBs you have had since Dan Marino" card. This should be fun.

As salary caps rise each year, so do the quarterback salaries. For that matter, most positions will naturally rise from year to year. It is why some general managers get the process and extend players a year early when the salary ceiling will be lower than the following year. Chris Grier hasn't grasped that yet.

In the past few years, quarterbacks have been paid well with new extensions and new contracts but Tua has had to watch Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert both get extended as well as Jalen Hurts, now, it's his turn. The question is where does he fit in with those QBs in terms of contracts?

  • Joe Burrow - $275 million - $146 million fully guaranteed - $219 million total guaranteed
  • Justin Herbert - $262 million - $133 million fully guaranteed - $193 million total guaranteed
  • Lamar Jackson - $260 million - $135 million fully guaranteed - $185 million total guaranteed
  • Jalen Hurts - $255 million - $110 million fully guaranteed - $179 million total guaranteed

So where will Tua Tagovailoa fall into this equation?

The Ravens got a deal with Jackson who won his 2nd league MVP award this year. Joe Burrow has taken his team to the Super Bowl as has Jalen Hurts. Justin Herbert has been the Rookie of the Year but has yet to get his team to the playoffs in more than one season.

I don't think Tua should be paid as the top QB in the league. You could argue that Burrow doesn't deserve that honor but Tua does not, even with a rise in annual salary cap. You could make a strong case that he deserves to be paid more than Justin Herbert but you could also make the case that the Chargers overpaid for Herbert which they did.

Miami may take the approach that Lamar Jackson signed a deal for less than both of the other QBs and has the MVP title on his resume. They could also point to Hurts taking the Eagles to the Super Bowl.

Tua is going to get paid and his contract should fall somewhere around Hurts and Jackson more than Herbert and Burrow. Tua will likely ask for Burrow-type money and I would assume the Dolphins will come in closer to Jalen Hurts on their initial offer which could end up slotting Tua between Jackson and Herbert.

Regardless, the extension is going to cross the $250 million mark but it will be the fully guaranteed money that will be more important and that will likely be around $200 million slotting him ahead of Herbert. The contract's guaranteed money will be the important part. Tua can get a contract that pays him $300 million over the life of the deal but if the guaranteed portion is $150 million it will give the Dolphins a huge out.

Obviously, those are simple numbers but when a deal is reached, and it will apparently, it is going to be the largest contract ever given out by the Dolphins.