Why the Dolphins can hold their ground with Tua Tagovailoa contract negotiations

Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins are making no progress on a new contract
New York Jets v Miami Dolphins
New York Jets v Miami Dolphins / Megan Briggs/GettyImages

The Miami Dolphins do not have many options regarding Tua Tagovailoa. They can extend him at the current market value, which will put his deal on the same level as Joe Burrow and Trevor Lawrence, force him to play on the fifth-year option in 2024, or trade him, the latter of which is not being talked about.

The Dolphins have come a long way in their never-ending search for a competent quarterback. Since Dan Marino left, Miami has gone through more starting quarterbacks than I care to write about. Ryan Tannehill was supposed to be the future; he wasn't. Tagovailoa is the present, and the Dolphins want you to believe they want him to be their future as well. Saying you want a guy to be "the" guy is one thing, but when it comes to paying him, the Dolphins seem to not consider him "the" guy after all.

Trading Tua would be a nightmare scenario for the Dolphins' front office. Essentially, it would be a signal that they never truly believed in him to begin with. They are saying that anyway by not giving him what he is asking for. They are saying, "We like you, but we don't really love you enough to marry you."

Tua Tagovailoa doesn't have a lot of options if he were to demand a trade or hit free agency

The Dolphins know that Tagovailoa's trade market options are slim right now, and free agency won't give him the lucrative contract he is seeking. In fact, only a handful of teams might consider a move if Tua were to hit the open market in free agency next offseason.

The biggest QB question going into next season is Dak Prescott. If he hits free agency, he will get picked up before Tagovailoa will. If the Cowboys pay him, it's one less spot for the Miami QB. The Cowboys are a big key in all of this because they are the wild card. Tagovailoa could sign with them as an FA if they lost Prescott, but that would be his best case scenario.

Jordan Love is the other top 2025 free agent prospect, but it would be shocking if the Packers didn't extend him. Green Bay is expected to make Love their top priority this offseason, but so far nothing has been done yet. The Packers are playing this like the Dolphins are.

No other NFL team is in dire need of a quarterback heading into the 2025 NFL season or the 2024 NFL season. If the Dolphins were going to trade him, they would need to do it this year, as Tagovailoa simply doesn't have to agree to stay in Miami, sign his franchise tag if offered, or anything else.

Miami knows that trade partners are limited and they also know that free agent options for Tagovailoa will also be limited. That is a reason why they may be sticking to their guns with these negotiations, which isn't great for the NFL's leader in passing yards from 2023.