Tua Tagovailoa will soon begin to transition into normal offseason activity. While the Dolphins will undoubtedly proceed cautiously with their quarterback moving forward, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (via Twitter) Tagovailoa cleared concussion protocol Wednesday.
Several days ago, Tagovailoa had still yet to clear the protocol — and was thus ruled out for the Pro Bowl Games — despite having suffered his most recent concussion on Christmas Day. Since that injury, Rapoport notes Tua has met with several doctors. The Dolphins remain confident their starter will be 100% for the 2023 season.
The 2022 season both included a breakthrough year for the third-year Dolphins QB and some troubling signs about his NFL career. Tagovailoa finished the season third in QBR and threw 25 touchdown passes despite only finishing 12 games. The absences overshadowed the Alabama product’s success, considering Tagovailoa’s injuries both caused him to miss the Dolphins’ playoff game and the NFL to overhaul its concussion protocol.
Tagovailoa, 24, either suffered two or three concussions this season. The uncertainty on the number stems from a Week 3 game against the Bills, when Tagovailoa briefly left the game after showing signs of a head injury. He was cleared to return, and while Tua finished the game — one that ended up becoming rather critical in the AFC’s grand scheme, considering the Bills’ loss led to them falling a half-game short of the AFC’s No. 1 seed — the process that led to his quick return prompted an NFLPA review and enhancements to the league’s concussion protocol.
The Dolphins lost their starter again four days later, after a scary hit led to Tagovailoa being stretchered off the field in Cincinnati, and played without him in the season’s final three games following his Christmas Day injury — one not discovered until the next day. The Dolphins went just 1-5 in games Tua did not finish. Then again, Teddy Bridgewater battled multiple injuries as well and was largely unavailable for the team this season as well. Bridgewater is set for free agency in March; Tagovailoa’s rookie deal has at least one season remaining.
Dolphins GM Chris Grier did not rule out an extension this offseason, and a January report affirmed Tagovailoa as the team’s 2023 starter. The Dolphins must decide on Tagovailoa’s fifth-year option by May. It would certainly make sense for the Dolphins to wait on a deal, given the inconsistency Tagovailoa has shown in three seasons. But he took major strides this year. The injuries sustained along the way, however, did affect the talented passer’s outlook.