Tua Tagovailoa

Dolphins’ Ryan Fitzpatrick Hasn’t Asked For Trade

Ryan Fitzpatrick led the Dolphins to back-to-back wins and a .500 record, but it wasn’t enough to stave off the inevitable rise of Tua Tagovailoa. Now relegated to backup status, the veteran says he has not requested a trade (Twitter link via Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald). At the same time, Fitzpatrick has yet to consider whether he’d be comfortable holding the clipboard beyond 2020.

[RELATED: Dolphins Turn To Tua Tagovailoa]

I like playing more than I like sitting watching,” said Fitzpatrick, confessing and stating the obvious.

FitzMagic, 28 in November, was a bright spot for the Dolphins in an otherwise trying year. He racked up 3,529 passing yards with 20 touchdowns against 13 interceptions and helped cap off the year in style with wins over the Bengals and Patriots.

The veteran is under contract for 2020 with an $8MM salary. Currently positioned as a pricey backup, Fitzpatrick isn’t quite sure of what the future holds beyond this year. For now, he’ll focus on helping the former Alabama standout transition to the pro game.

Tagovailoa’s debut as the Dolphins’ starter will come after their bye week on Nov. 1 against the Rams.

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Dolphins To Start Tua Tagovailoa

It’s Tua time. The Dolphins will start rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa ahead of Ryan Fitzpatrick in Week 8 against the Rams, per a club announcement. 

The Dolphins brought Tagovailoa in against the Jets on Sunday, giving him some reps heading into their bye week. At 3-3, this wasn’t necessarily a slam-dunk decision by the team. Fitzpatrick has them in playoff contention, but they’re also looking ahead to the future, which figures to be led by the Alabama star.

The Dolphins tapped Tagovailoa with the No. 5 overall pick, despite concerns over his surgically-repaired hip and other injuries. Even though his 2019 season was wiped out, many say that he has the greatest upside of any QB from the 2020 class. Tagovailoa easily could have been the No. 1 overall pick, if not for his career-threatening injury and Joe Burrow’s absolutely absurd final season at LSU. As a fully healthy sophomore in 2018, Tagovailoa dazzled as he threw for almost 4,000 yards and 43 touchdowns with only six interceptions. In that year, he was the runner-up for the Heisman trophy behind Kyler Murray, the eventual No. 1 overall pick.

Now, he’s totally healthy, and he’ll be in total command of the Dolphins’ offense moving forward.

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AFC East Notes: Newton, Dolphins, Jets

Cam Newton was reported Monday to be asymptomatic after his positive COVID-19 test, and with nothing changing on that front Tuesday, the Patriots quarterback could return to practice as soon as Thursday. While no other players on New England’s active roster tested positive, the team placed practice squad defensive tackle Bill Murray on its reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday. Murray did not make the trip to Kansas City, per NBC Sports Boston’s Tom Curran (on Twitter), but Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio notes the young defender did stay at the hotel near Gillette Stadium with teammates previously.

Here is the latest from the AFC East, moving first to the Dolphins’ quarterback situation:

  • Brian Flores did not commit to Ryan Fitzpatrick receiving a fifth start when asked earlier this week, but the Dolphins‘ second-year head coach did so Tuesday. Fitzpatrick will start against the 49ers. Flores said Tua Tagovailoa‘s 2019 hip injury remains a factor in the Dolphins’ decision-making. The former Alabama prodigy’s past injury issues have helped keep Fitzpatrick in the lineup. Fitz has thrown four touchdown passes, five interceptions and interestingly holds the league’s No. 9 QBR figure (75.3). But with questions about Fitzpatrick’s job status taking place before Week 5, Tagovailoa will surely make his debut this season.
  • Before ultimately deciding on the Giants, Logan Ryan was squarely on the Jets‘ radar. The most recent report indicated Jets GM Joe Douglas nixed a Ryan agreement because it leaked to the media, with contract demands almost certainly playing a role as well, but Ryan said during a radio interview with WFAN the Jets did not make an offer (Twitter link). Ryan estimated he talked to nearly every team this offseason, one in which he was a free agent for more than five months. Barring a Giants extension, the veteran defensive back is slated to be a free agent again in 2021.
  • The Jets did not plan on using injured left tackle Mekhi Becton last week, but replacement Chuma Edoga going down in the first quarter prompted them to reinsert their ailing starter into the lineup. Adam Gase said the nature of Becton’s injury would have prevented him from making it worse, calling it a pain-tolerance issue. The Louisville alum is said to be dealing with a capsule issue in his shoulder, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com notes. This pertains to the ligament surrounding the shoulder joint. Becton played just 17 snaps in Week 4. The first-round pick has played well when healthy but has seen this injury stall his development.
  • Gang Green may be without its left tackle and starting quarterback in Week 5. The Jets are not expected to play Sam Darnold against the Cardinals, with the team on track to proceed with caution after the quarterback was slammed to turf during the Jets’ loss to the Broncos.

AFC Notes: Dolphins, Tagovailoa, Fitzpatrick, Raiders, Steelers, Jones

The Dolphins dropped to 1-3 on Sunday, causing the calls for Tua Tagovailoa to grow louder. Head coach Brian Flores has been steadfast in his resistance to starting the rookie, but for the first time he equivocated when talking to the media on Monday. When asked who his quarterback will be for Week 5 against the 49ers, Flores didn’t immediately say Ryan Fitzpatrick as he usually does, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald tweeted. He said the coaching staff will start discussing the decision this evening.

While Flores did follow up by saying he presumes Fitz will be the starter, this is still a notable change in tone. Flores seemed to catch himself during the presser and said his hesitation wasn’t a sign of anything to come imminently, but it now seems like the writing is on the wall for the Dolphins. It appears Flores is laying the groundwork for an eventual switch to Tagovailoa, and while Fitzpatrick still is the favorite to start this week it looks like his days are numbered. Flores also said he isn’t going to let the success of Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert effect his decision, but it certainly won’t help ease the pressure on him to make the move. He also said the injury Tua is coming off of has played a role in his caution, even though the fifth overall pick has “checked all the boxes” medically.

Here’s more from around the AFC:

  • The league continues to dish out punishments for COVID-19 protocol violations, with the Raiders getting slapped with another fine. Las Vegas was fined $50K for letting a non-credentialed employee into the locker room following their Week 2 win over the Saints, sources told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). The Raiders have already been hit, with the team being fined $250K and head coach Jon Gruden being fined $100K for not properly wearing his mask during that same game. We heard a couple weeks ago that a team was under investigation for “unauthorized locker room access,” and it appears this latest fine is the conclusion of that investigation. The league has a call with all teams later this afternoon to give them a stern talking to about protocols in the wake of a litany of positive tests, and it sounds like the Raiders are firmly in the league’s crosshairs.
  • Steelers practice squad offensive lineman Jarron Jones is facing very serious legal issues. Jones was arrested over the weekend and charged with “aggravated assault, strangulation and simple assault,” per Brooke Pryor of ESPN.com. A woman Jones was dating accused him of choking her, hitting her in the face, and throwing her outside during an altercation. For his part, Jones claims the woman began breaking things in his apartment and he responded by “grabbing her by the back and legs and placed her outside.” Pittsburgh was on an unscheduled bye week after their game against the Titans was postponed due to Tennessee’s COVID issues. “We are aware of the situation regarding Jarron Jones,” Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said in a statement. “We are gathering all of the details of these disturbing allegations, but we will not comment any further at this time.” We’ll let you know when we hear more, but it wouldn’t be surprising if Jones is cut shortly and he’s certainly facing league discipline if the allegations turn out to have merit.

AFC East Notes: Newton, Tua, Fins, Bills

The Patriots made a big splash last night when they signed former league MVP Cam Newton to a one-year contract. The assumption is that Newton will be the team’s starting signal-caller, but Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network says the Pats made no promises in that regard. Still, while there is technically an open competition between Newton and second-year pro Jarrett Stidham, it would be stunning if Newton did not win the job (video link). Garafolo also points out that Newton still has to pass a physical, but the Patriots are confident he will do so.

Garafolo also passes along a fun fact (via Twitter): New England is the third team in NFL history to lose one MVP and sign another in the same offseason. The 2000 Dolphins parted ways with Dan Marino and brought in Thurman Thomas, and the 2005 Cardinals bid farewell to Emmitt Smith and signed Kurt Warner.

Now for more from the AFC East:

  • The Dolphins drafted Tua Tagovailoa with the belief that he will be the franchise signal-caller the team has been seeking for the past 20 years. He may not start right away, but Albert Breer of SI.com believes the southpaw will be put into the starting lineup at some point this season. While the 2020 Dolphins should be an improved squad over last year’s iteration, Miami is still probably at least a year away from playoff contention, so the team will have no reason to keep Tagovailoa on the sidelines for the entire campaign.
  • Miami is set at the LG and C spots with Ereck Flowers and Ted Karras, respectively. Beyond that, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald says the Dolphins are still undecided as to whether second-round rookie Robert Hunt would be a better fit at RG or RT in 2020. If Hunt gets a shot at RT and performs well, that could bump 2019 starter Jesse Davis back to the interior or to the bench. Meanwhile, Michael Deiter will compete for the starting RG and backup C slots.
  • In the same piece linked above, Jackson notes that the Dolphins are working out WR Gary Jennings in the slot — where he thrived in college — and on the outside. Jennings was a fourth-round pick of the Seahawks in 2019, but Seattle waived him in November and Miami scooped him up. He played in just one game for the ‘Fins before getting hurt, but his draft pedigree and upside will give him a good chance to make the club as the fifth or sixth WR.
  • In a minor trade last summer, the Bills acquired OL Ryan Bates from the Eagles in exchange for DE Eli Harold. Philadelphia subsequently cut Harold, but Buffalo hung on to Bates, who was active for nine games. Per Adam Caplan of InsideTheBirds.com, the Bills view Bates, a 2019 UDFA, as a viable right tackle, guard, and center, so they expect him to be a key backup in 2020 who may take on a bigger role down the road.
  • Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic, meanwhile, views Bates as a potential trade candidate. Buscaglia also looks at a few other players that the Bills could put on the trade market, a list headed by WR Robert Foster and TE Jason Croom.

AFC East Notes: Dolphins, Tua, Fitz, Jets

Ryan Fitzpatrick is “really excited” to have Tua Tagovailoa in the Dolphins‘ locker room, as Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald writes. He gushed about the Alabama product in a chat with former Bills teammate Eric Woods, though he’s not quite ready to pass the torch as the team’s starting quarterback.

I also want to be out there playing,” Fitzpatrick said. “I also want to be on the field. And that’s why I’m still doing it, because I still enjoy playing the gameHopefully some of the lessons I’m able to teach him are from him watching me play. But if it’s the other way around, I’m going to do my best to help him succeed in the best way he can.”

Ultimately, the Dolphins will do what’s best for business, but Fitzpatrick may have a leg up on the rookie, thanks to his relationship with new offensive coordinator Chan Gailey.

Chan and I have worked together for three years … He’s the guy who has given me the longest leash in my career in terms of being able to do things,” Fitzpatrick said. “And I trust him completely, and he has ultimate trust in me as well. This will be a little bit different in that if I’m out there playing there’s going to be a little bit longer leash because of the history we have together.”

Here’s more from the AFC East:

Tagovailoa, Brown Have Offset Language

Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and Panthers defensive lineman Derrick Brown have offset language in their contracts, according to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated. So far, they’re the only two first-round picks to have their deals in place, so that’s an indication most of the Top 32 will follow suit. 

Rookie contracts for NFL draft picks are cut-and-dry, for the most part, thanks to the slotting system. However, offset language is usually the biggest barrier to an agreement. If a player with offset language is released midway through the contract and signs elsewhere, the original team is only on the hook for the difference in salary between the two deals. Without offset language, the player can effectively collect two paychecks. Naturally, agents try to preserve that potential earning power while owners push back.

Breer expects just about every first-round pick to make the same concession, except for Jaguars first-round picks C.J. Henderson (No. 9 overall) and K’Lavon Chaisson (No. 20 overall). Historically, the Jaguars have not pushed offsets on players, but most teams do. It would only make sense for teams to insist on offsets, particularly following this truly unprecedented evaluation period. In essence, offset language serves as a bit of insurance against the possibility of a draft bust.

On the whole, the Dolphins are excited about Tagovailoa’s potential, despite his surgically-repaired hip and other past issues on his medical chart. In accordance with his slot at No. 5 overall, he’ll make just over $30MM over the course of a four-year deal. Brown, meanwhile, is set to make just under $24MM over the course of his four year deal with the Panthers. As first round picks, both deals will include fifth-year options. They’ll also come with a bit of extra protection, thanks to the offset language included within.

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Dolphins Sign Tua Tagovailoa

Most of this year’s top draft picks – including No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow – have yet to ink their rookie contracts. You can put Tua Tagovailoa in the “signed” column. On Monday, the Dolphins agreed to terms with the quarterback on his first NFL deal (Twitter link via Field Yates of ESPN.com). 

Per the terms of his slot, the Alabama star will earn $30.275MM over the course of his four-year pact. And, because he’s a first-round pick, the Dolphins will also hold a fifth-year option for his services, allowing them to leg out the arrangement through 2024. Per the terms of the new collective bargaining agreement, that extra year will not be guaranteed exclusively for injury, it’d be just plain guaranteed.

The Dolphins tried their best to run a misdirection play with Justin Herbert, but they ultimately chose Tagovailoa, their longtime draft crush, with the No. 5 overall pick. With that, he’s set to take center stage in South Beach while grizzled and bearded veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick shows him the ropes.

Tagovailoa easily could have been the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, if not for his career-threatening injury and Burrow’s absolutely absurd final season at LSU. Tagovailoa’s camp says he’s on track for 100% health this year and doctors that have checked him out are in agreement. If his hip, wrist, and ankle injuries stay in the rearview mirror, Tagovailoa figures to have a bright future ahead.

As a fully healthy sophomore in 2018, Tagovailoa dazzled as he threw for almost 4,000 yards and 43 touchdowns with only six interceptions. In that year, he was the runner-up for the Heisman trophy behind Kyler Murray, the eventual No. 1 overall pick.

Tagovailoa finished his college career with a Division I-FBS-record 10.9 yards per attempt. The dynamic southpaw also exited Tuscaloosa with an 87-11 career TD-INT ratio. He represents the most-hyped Dolphins quarterback Since Dan Marino, whom the franchise has been trying to replace for 20 years.

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NFC East Notes: Redskins, Newton, Williams, Cowboys, Eagles, Giants

Things weren’t great down the stretch for the Redskins and Trent Williams, but the new 49ers tackle says he’s not harboring any ill will towards his former team.

I’m thankful this is over,” Williams told Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). “Thanks to Dan [Snyder] and the organization for all they’ve done for me. Still a lot of love for the fans and that locker room. Now I’m focusing on being the best player I can possibly be for the 49ers.”

Now that his saga with the Redskins is in the rear view mirror, Williams is focused on hashing out a new deal with the defending NFC champs. Right now, Williams is set to play out the 2020 season on a $12.5MM base salary, but the veteran says there’s mutual interest in a fresh pact. Given Williams’ medical history and age, it remains to be seen whether the 49ers would be willing to commit substantial guaranteed cash to him. Then again, he’s a seven-time Pro Bowler at a premium position and the Niners, ideally, want to keep him happy.

Here’s more from the NFC West:

  • Were the Redskins ever serious about selecting Tua Tagovailoa instead of stud edge rusher Chase Young? “No, not really,” head coach Ron Rivera said this week (via JP Finlay of NBC Sports). “We just feel about the things we saw from Dwayne Haskins,” Rivera continued. “I feel good enough about him that I’m willing to take that chance, that opportunity.”
  • Meanwhile, the longtime Panthers head coach isn’t ruling out a reunion with former MVP Cam Newton (via NFL.com). “You know, the thing about Cam really is the situation,” said Rivera. “We’re in a situation where we’ve got two really young quarterbacks, one that’s been with us, been in the system, understands how we want things done and the other one is a guy who was taken last year in the first round and shows some promise.” For now, Newton is holding out for an opportunity to start.
  • The Cowboys coughed up a 2021 fifth-round pick to the Eagles to take Wisconsin lineman Tyler Biadsz last week. The intra-divisional trade wasn’t an easy call, but they were able to stomach it thanks to a wealth of mid-round selections coming their way, The Athletic’s Jon Machota writes. Jerry Jones & Co. will recoup comp picks after losing four starters in free agency: cornerback Byron Jones, edge rusher Robert Quinn, wide receiver Randall Cobb, and defensive tackle Maliek Collins.
  • The Giants non-tendered center Jon Halapio earlier this year, but there’s a strong chance he’ll return to the team as he recovers from an Achilles injury, Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com tweets. For now, the Giants have a few options on hand in guard Shane Lemieux – who has never lined up in the middle – Spencer Pulley, and G/T Nick Gates.

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Chargers Liked Tua Tagovailoa At No. 6

With the No. 6 pick in the NFL Draft, the Chargers found their new quarterback in Oregon product Justin Herbert. But, even if wasn’t there, GM Tom Telesco says he would have taken a QB, no matter what. 

We felt great about all three quarterbacks who went in the Top 6,” Telesco told Pat McAfee of Barstool Sports (Twitter link), referring to No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow and Dolphins choice Tua Tagovailoa. “Hopefully we won’t pick at No. 6 very often…if I do, I won’t be making very many picks hereIf you’re going to pick this high and there’s a potential franchise quarterback, you have to take him.”

Burrow to the Bengals was long considered a sure thing and Tagovailoa was connected to the Dolphins for months. As the draft drew closer, whispers of the Dolphins’ interest in Herbert grew louder and louder. And, days before the draft, there was talk of the Dolphins trading up to the No. 3 pick to select an offensive lineman, rather than a quarterback. That’s one rumor that Telesco didn’t bite on.

Every rumor I heard, I went through my head of, ‘How would we handle this if this happened?’,” Telesco told Pat McAfee. “Now, the whole, Miami taking a tackle at 3, maybe they really were, I just didn’t believe that one. You make plans, you talk with your head coach…you talk about trading up or down in certain situations. When you’re on the clock making the pick, you’re not discussing what you want to do, you’ve already decided.

The opinions on Herbert are pretty mixed in the football world. Those that are high on him believe that his elite arm strength will allow him to succeed as a starter. Others are concerned about his pension for holding on to the ball for too long in the pocket. At the same time, Tagovailoa’s health remains a major question mark moving forward and Telesco says he would have been happy with either QB as the heir to Philip Rivers.

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