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June 24, 2024

The Future of Tua Tagovailoa with the Dolphins Remains Uncertain After Playoff Loss

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Jan 16, 2024

The Miami Dolphins fell short in the playoffs once again this year, increasing doubts about whether quarterback Tua Tagovailoa can lead the team to a championship. After the loss, Dolphins GM Chris Grier said he still wants Tagovailoa to remain with the team long-term, but many are questioning if the Dolphins should commit to the young QB or explore other options.

Background on Tua’s Time with the Dolphins

Tua Tagovailoa was drafted 5th overall by the Dolphins in 2020 with high hopes that he could be the franchise quarterback to lead the team back to contention. He showed flashes of promise in his first two seasons but dealt with injuries that limited his time on the field.

Heading into 2023, the Dolphins surrounded Tua with elite offensive weapons like Tyreek Hill in hopes that Tua could make a big leap. For much of the 2023 regular season, Tua played the best football of his career and had the Dolphins cruising with an 8-3 record. However, his season was cut short by a serious concussion in Week 16 that caused him to miss the final 3 games.

Tua Tagovailoa Stats 2020 2021 2022 2023*
Record as Starter 6-3 7-5 8-5 8-5
Completion % 64.1% 67.8% 65.0% 64.8%
Passing Yards 1,814 2,653 3,035 3,548
Passing TDs 11 16 25 25
INTs 5 10 8 8

*2023 stats through 13 starts

Backup QB Skylar Thompson filled in admirably down the stretch and helped lead Miami to the #6 seed in the AFC. This set up a Wild Card matchup with the #3 seed Kansas City Chiefs. Tua was cleared from concussion protocol in time for the playoff game and got the start. But his rust from missing 3 games showed, and the Dolphins offense struggled mightily in the second half, leading to a demoralizing 30-27 loss.

Tua finished an underwhelming 18/31 for 198 yards, 1 TD and 0 INTs. But almost all of his production came in the first half. After halftime, the Dolphins had 6 straight possessions without points. Tua and the offense failed to respond as the Chiefs mounted their comeback.

Reaction to the Playoff Loss

The playoff defeat left a bitter taste for Dolphins fans after so much optimism through most of the season. There is a lot of frustration and doubt now surrounding Tua Tagovailoa’s ability to lift Miami to the next level.

Dolphins GM Chris Grier said after the loss: “We want him here long term. The kid does nothing but works his butt off and handles himself like a pro, and I think he’ll continue to improve and get better.”

But many fans and analysts feel like the Dolphins have seen enough of Tua over 3 seasons to determine he is not a championship-caliber QB.

NBC Sports’ Mike Florio said: “I don’t know how the Dolphins can make a long-term commitment to Tua based on what we saw this year…He wasn’t able to lift this team when it needed to be lifted.”

The Ringer’s Kevin Clark added: “This game showed that there are still limitations on what Tua can do compared with the NFL’s best quarterbacks. Miami must now decide, once and for all, whether it thinks Tua’s ceiling is high enough for its Super Bowl goals.”

On sports radio in Miami, host Joe Rose said: “I don’t think you can extend Tua this offseason. He’s too inconsistent and struggles when they fall behind.”

Many fans on social media echoed this sentiment and voiced frustration over wasted opportunities this season:

Clearly the fanbase is split on Tua. Some cite injuries, coaching changes and lack of weapons earlier as reasons to remain patient. But a growing number have lost faith that he can become an elite QB1.

What’s Next for Tua and the Dolphins?

Tua Tagovailoa is heading into the final year of his rookie contract in 2024. The Dolphins must decide whether to exercise Tua’s 5th-year option for 2025, sign him to a long-term extension, or potentially cut ties and go a different direction at QB.

Dolphins GM Chris Grier maintains he wants to keep Tua in Miami for the long haul. But he concedes a lot will depend on how 2024 goes: “As we keep moving forward, those conversations will pick up more.”

The Dolphins could look to sign Tua to an extension in line with a 2nd-tier “prove it” QB deal, similar to the 3-year, $84 million contract Kirk Cousins signed with Minnesota. This would give Tua one more season to show he deserves franchise QB money.

But some around the league expect Miami to strongly consider using their top-10 draft pick this year on a QB prospect like Will Levis or Anthony Richardson who could develop into Tua’s replacement.

Draft analyst Matt Miller projects: “With questions mounting about Tagovailoa’s ability to stay healthy and lift the Dolphins’ offense, all eyes turn to the 2024 NFL draft where GM Chris Grier could have his choice of rookie quarterbacks. I won’t be surprised if Miami kicks the tires on Levis or Richardson in Round 1.”

Veteran QBs like Tom Brady, Derek Carr, and Jimmy Garoppolo could also tempt Miami in free agency or via trade if they sour on investing in Tua long-term after next season.

NBC Sports’ Chris Simms expects a make-or-break year for Tua in 2024: “I think it comes down to how he starts next season, and if he struggles again early, then Miami will start looking to move on rather quickly I’d guess.”

Final Analysis

The Dolphins’ ugly playoff loss leaves huge questions about Tua Tagovailoa as he heads into a contract year in 2024. GM Chris Grier continues to voice support for keeping Tua long-term. But the fanbase and NFL analysts remain skeptical if Tua’s limitations preclude him from becoming a championship-caliber quarterback.

It appears Tagovailoa will get one more season to prove himself as the Dolphins’ franchise QB. However, the leash figures to be short, and any extended struggles in 2024 could accelerate Miami’s search for a new leader under center. Tua’s future with the Dolphins hangs delicately in the balance heading into a pressure-packed 2024 campaign.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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