Tua Tagovailoa

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dolphins Take Tua Tagovailoa

The Dolphins ended many months of speculation, and finally got who they hope is their future franchise quarterback. Miami picked Tua Tagovailoa fifth overall on Thursday night.

There was a lot of talk that the Dolphins could go offensive tackle with their first selection, but it turns out that was a smokescreen. The team has been linked to Tagovailoa for over a year, and it was widely speculated that they tanked the 2019 season with him in mind. Tagovailoa’s devastating hip injury at the end of his Alabama career threw a wrench into things, and uncertainty about his medicals caused some teams to downgrade him.

In recent weeks momentum started to build for Oregon passer Justin Herbert, and there were reports that some inside the Dolphins’ building preferred Herbert. It’s possible that was all a smokescreen as well, and things ended up right back where they started.

Tagovailoa has apparently gotten great reports back from his doctors, although his exact timeline for returning to full-speed is still unclear. The Dolphins also have Ryan Fitzpatrick on the roster who can serve as a mentor and fill in just in case Tagovailoa isn’t ready for Week 1. In addition to his troublesome hip, Tagovailoa has also dealt with wrist and ankle injuries in the past.

If he can stay healthy, the Dolphins might’ve finally found their guy. Miami certainly won’t be tanking in 2020, after they spent big in free agency on guys like Byron Jones and Kyle Van Noy.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Doctor Says Tua Tagovailoa’s X-Rays Are “Pristine”

The doctor who oversaw Tua Tagovailoa‘s medical recheck earlier this month says his X-rays looked “pristine” (Twitter link via Stefania Bell of ESPN.com). It’s not uncommon to hear glowing recommendations from doctors and surgeons around this time of year, but Dr. Byrd served as an independent evaluator and the recheck was facilitated by the league office. 

[RELATED: Jaguars Eyeing Tua, Talking Trade With Lions]

Byrd also told Bell that the Alabama star “looks as good as” anyone he’s ever seen five months removed from a major injury. The Titans doc has seen his fair share of injuries over the years, so that’s a strong statement.

This all jibes with what we’ve heard over the past few weeks, thanks in part to some amplification from the QB’s camp. On the whole, teams seem to be pretty comfortable with Tagovailoa’s current medical situation, despite the history with his hip, wrist, and ankle sprains. In the long run, questions still persist about his ability to withstand the rigors of the NFL and the big hits that come along with the pro game.

If not for the injuries, it’s possible that Tagovailoa would be in the running for tonight’s No. 1 overall pick. Instead, Joe Burrow appears locked in as the first name to be called.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jaguars Eyeing Tua Tagovailoa, Talking Trade With Lions

Could Jacksonville move up the board? ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweets that Jaguars’ general manager Dave Caldwell “just” called Lions’ general manager Bob Quinn about tonight’s pick.

Jacksonville is currently in possession of picks No. 9 and No. 20, although that might not be enough to get Detroit to sacrifice the No. 3 pick. We heard earlier today that the Lions would only surrender the third-overall pick if they received a top-five pick in return.

Regardless of compensation, it appears that the Jaguars’ trade inquiries are part of an effort to select Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Talks of the signal-caller getting selected by the Jaguars continue to “linger,” writes ProFootballTalk.com’s Mike Florio. The reporter notes that Jacksonville has been mentioned as a suitor for the quarterback for several days.

Of course, it’s uncertain if the Jaguars would really select a player at that position before fully evaluating whether Gardner Minshew can be their franchise quarterback. On the flip side, as Florio notes, the organization passed on both Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson because of the presence of Blake Bortles. Ownership may be looking to avoid that mistake a second time.

If the Jaguars have their way, this might not be the only trade they pull off today. The organization has been shopping running back Leonard Fournette or defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, but they’ve yet to find a favorable trade.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Draft Rumors: Lions, 49ers, Giants

The Lions (No. 3) and 49ers (Nos. 13 and 31) appear to be the most aggressive teams when it comes to trading down, Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports hears (via Twitter). He also hears that the Lions aren’t getting much in the way of enticing offers, whereas the Niners could have possibilities for both picks.

We know that the Dolphins want Detroit’s No. 3, but they’re trying to pry it loose without sacrificing their No. 5 pick. That could mean a package including their two other first-round picks, plus more from their significant stockpile. The Lions, understandably, are not jumping at any offers that take them out of the Top 5.

Meanwhile, the 49ers’ pick at No. 13 could fetch a big haul, especially if they hold until this evening and wait for one of this year’s stud wide receivers to fall.

Here’s more from Robinson, with all links going to Twitter:

  • There’s talk of the Dolphins eyeing an offensive tackle with their No. 5 pick, but the teams surrounding them in the draft order don’t believe that’s the case (link). Most of Robinson’s sources seem to think that pick is destined for Justin Herbert or Tua Tagovailoa. No matter what happens at #5, you can expect Miami to target tackles early on, especially since free agent pickup Ereck Flowers has been slotted for the interior.
  • Robinson isn’t sure what the Dolphins are going to do (same goes for everyone outside of their front office), but he senses that the Chargers are higher on Herbert than Tagovailoa (link). Robinson hears they like his makeup – Herbert has a cannon for an arm – and they’re skittish about Tagovailoa’s surgically-repaired hip. For what it’s worth, the Dolphins passed the Alabama star on his physical at the combine in February.
  • Assuming the Giants stay at No. 4, Robinson believes the conversation is down to Jedrick Wills Jr. and Tristan Wirfs (link). Some evaluators think Wirfs is better suited for guard, but the Giants believe that can be a strong tackle at the pro level.
  • With the draft drawing near, the Jaguars still aren’t getting any good bites on running back Leonard Fournette or defensive end Yannick Ngakoue (link). The Jags have been shopping Fournette for more than a month now; they might have scale back their asking price if they want to get a deal done. The Ngakoue market also seems pretty weak, though that has more to do with his contract demands. The Raiders touched base with the Jags on the franchise-tagged defensive end this week, but nothing’s brewing at the moment.