NFL reporter Peter King has offered up a potentially sobering assessment when it comes to Tua Tagovailoa and his future with the Miami Dolphins.
Tua Tagovailoa been slowly nurtured into being the starting quarterback for the Miami Dolphins over the past few years, this seems as if it is going to be a pretty big year for the 24-year-old signal caller.
His first two seasons were hampered by a combination of injuries and having to compete for the starting job with veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick, but despite the Dolphins’ acquisition of Teddy Bridgewater this past offseason, the consensus is that Tagovailoa will be the team’s starter throughout the entirety of the campaign.
Now in his 3rd year, this is a pretty important one, as it’s getting close to the time that they need to make a decision on his 5th-year option, or if they let him go into 2023 without a longer-term contract ready to release him ahead of the 2024 season.
They have certainly been giving him the weapons to work with, drafting Jaylen Waddle in the first round of the 2021 Draft, and this offseason adding Cedrick Wilson Jr through free agency and Tyreek Hill via a trade, so there can’t really be any excuses on his end.
But recent news coming out of the NFL league offices could change the way they approach things.
Last week the NFL announced a number of punishments on the Dolphins for their activity over recent years. The team were accused by former head coach Brian Flores of trying to pay him in order to lose games and get better draft picks, a method known as ‘tanking’, whilst also facing allegations of tampering to try and sign Tom Brady and Sean Payton, despite both of them being under contract with their former teams.
The league punished them by taking away a 1st-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft as well as a 3rd-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.
And it’s that punishment that makes Peter King believe that Tagovailoa might be under some severe pressure to perform this season.
All on Tua’s shoulders now
Writing in his Football Morning In America column, King claimed that as a result of the draft picks they have lost, as well as what they have already, the team might have wanted to use them to trade up in the draft and select a new quarterback, but now that option is gone and it shifts the pressure even further onto Tagovailoa:
“This is the upshot that really hurts Miami: Before this happened, they had their own 2023 first-round pick and also San Francisco’s. Let’s just say Tua Tagovailoa is mediocre this year and Miami decides it wants to try to get in position to move up to get a quarterback in the ’23 draft. Theoretically, if their two picks were in the 15 to 22 range (just spitballing), maybe they could package those two plus their one in 2024 to move up to three or four to get a quarterback. That’s out the window now.
“This ratchets up the pressure on Tagovailoa. Now there’s really no Plan B for 2023, unless the Miami braintrust falls in love next spring with a Kenny Pickett type talent and he falls in round one. Maybe you’d say it’s great for Tagovailoa—he can play free and easy knowing it’s going to be his job going forward. And maybe that’s the case. But I say there’s just as good a chance he feels the heat of, Dude, you simply cannot fail. He’s certainly set up to win with Tyreek Hill and Mike McDaniel on board now, and he needs to win now.”
As King says, this news will really ramp up the pressure on Tagovailoa, because it seems as if his status as the team’s quarterback going forward might well be secure.
It’s just a case of whether or not he embraces the pressure and turns it into a stellar year to make them give him an extension, or if he crumbles and leaves not only his future in jeopardy, but also that of the Dolphins.