After making a number of sizeable moves last offseason, the Dolphins are unlikely to be active with respect to outside additions in 2023. The team does face a crucial internal decision with respect to quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, however, and nothing has been committed to at this point.
As a first-round pick in 2020, Miami must decide on picking up Tagovailoa’s fifth-year option this year. The deadline for doing so is May 1, but the team may wait until very near that point to to pick up or decline it. When speaking about the subject publicly, head coach Mike McDaniel indicated that the Dolphins would be well-served to consider every option, though he did add that “both parties want him to play at a high level for a very long time for the Miami Dolphins” (Twitter link via NFL Network’s Cameron Wolfe).
Picking up Tagovailoa’s option would carry a cost of $23.17MM for the 2024 campaign. That figure would represent a bargain for starting-caliber QB play, especially considering the step forward the 25-year-old took under McDaniel this past season. Tagovailoa set career-highs across several categories in 2022, and led the league in passer rating and yards per attempt. Keeping him in place for at least the next two years would seem like a simple decision based on his production alone.
The Dolphins must keep in mind, of course, Tagovailoa’s injury history, something which complicates the situation. The Alabama product suffered at least two (potentially three) concussions in the 2022 season, which kept him sidelined for team’s postseason push and wild-card round loss to the Bills. He had a lengthy stay in the league’s concussion protocol after the Dolphins had been eliminated, something which has left some to seriously doubt his long-term playing future. Tagovailoa has since publicly praised the team’s decision to force him to sit out as a precaution, and is planning on taking new steps to better protect himself in the future.
Given his availability concerns, Miami would be wise to at least explore possible alternatives, and Josina Anderson of CBS Sports reports that the team is doing just that (video link). One of several options being weighed, she states, includes “potentially moving in a different direction” than Tagovailoa, something which would mark a highly underwhelming development given the recent draft capital invested in him.
Miami added veteran Teddy Bridgewater as a backup last offseason, but he dealt with multiple injuries of his own over the course of the year. Seventh-round rookie Skylar Thompson was called into action for two regular season games and the postseason contest, but a long-term starting option would need to be found in the absence of Tagovailoa next season. The Dolphins’ 2023 draft capital – hindered by last year’s tampering scandal – would not be sufficient to land one the class’ top passers as a developmental QB, which could point to Tagovailoa’s option being the safest option in the near-term to build off of 2022’s success.