Dolphins Position Outlook: Quarterbacks

Tua Tagovailoa looking to get a contract extension ... and another level to his game.
Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa throws the football during mandatory minicamp at the Baptist Health Training Complex.
Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa throws the football during mandatory minicamp at the Baptist Health Training Complex. / Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
In this story:

After making the playoffs for a second straight season under coach Mike McDaniel, the Miami Dolphins are still looking for their first playoff win since 2000. The quest for that victory starts with training camp.

The Miami Dolphins had a surprisingly eventful offseason for a team that started with so little cap space. The team lost homegrown talents like Christian Wilkins and Robert Hunt but added exciting veterans like Odell Beckham Jr., Kendall Fuller, Calais Campbell and Jordyn Brooks.

This series will break down each position on the Dolphins’ roster, providing fans with an in-depth look at each player’s outlook for the coming 2024 season.

We’ll start with the most critical position of all: quarterback.


Tua Tagovailoa

2023 Stats: 4,624 passing yards, 69.3 completion %, 29 TDs, 14 INTs

2024 Outlook: Tagovailoa proved he can stay healthy for an entire season in 2023, and the Dolphins offense was clearly better for it.

However, Tagovailoa is still looking for an extension on his rookie deal. The Dolphins have said they want to extend Tagovailoa, and the quarterback said he wants to remain in Miami. Assuming the sides come together before the season, all eyes will be on the postseason.

The Dolphins have gone one and done in consecutive seasons, including a disappointing performance from Tua in Kansas City last season. Tagovailoa has proven he can pilot Miami’s unique offense to regular season success, but he’ll have to prove he can rise to the occasion in big games this season.

Generally speaking, it’s the last step in Tagovailoa’s development. All of the pieces are in place for him to succeed in big moments at this stage of his career.

Mike White

2023 Stats: 74 yards, 83.3 completion %, 1 TD, 1 INT

2024 Outlook: There’s not much to say about White’s outlook for this coming season. He only saw mop-up action in 2023; if things go as planned, it’ll be the same result in 2024.

The most important thing for White will be holding off Skylar Thompson for the QB2 spot during training camp. According to Over The Cap, White's contract for this season does not include guaranteed money.

If he’s not playing well in training camp or the preseason, there’s a chance Miami could cut him. However, that doesn’t seem overly likely.

Skylar Thompson

2023 Stats: Did Not Play

2024 Outlook: Similarly to White, there’s little to say about Thompson. He’ll likely get a chance to compete with White for the QB2 spot despite not seeing any action last season.

Thompson, a former seventh-round pick, showed some flashes during the 2022 season, but Miami seems content to keep him around as a third quarterback for now. He’s on a cheap deal, and he knows the system well, so there’s really no harm in that.

If Miami keeps three quarterbacks again this season, Thompson should have his place on the final roster.

Gavin Hardison

2023 Stats (UTEP): 947 yards, 56.6 completion %, 5 TDs, 7 INTs

2024 Outlook: Hardison signed a UDFA deal following the 2024 NFL draft. The former UTEP quarterback will have quite the uphill battle to make the roster.

White and Thompson feel pretty locked into the backup quarterback spots, and the Dolphins won’t carry four passers on the final roster. Hardison’s best chance is to make the team’s practice squad and stick there for a few seasons.

Even that will be a tall task, though. Hardison has some physical tools, but he’s coming off a significant arm injury (he had Tommy John surgery in November). Also, his play at UTEP was never awe-inspiring.


Most Accurate: Tua Tagovailoa

Strongest Arm: Skylar Thompson

Best Athlete: Skylar Thompson

Best Processor: Tua Tagovailoa

Best Pocket Presence: Tua Tagovailoa


Can Tua Improve Outside of Structure?

The biggest on-field question for Tagovailoa this season is whether he can expand his game past his specialist skill set, especially in crucial moments against good defenses.

The Dolphins were in the driver’s seat to win the AFC East last season before a late-season collapse saw them drop three of their last five games, including two straight in Weeks 17 and 18 against Baltimore and Buffalo.

Tagovailoa didn’t perform well in either contest or bounce back in freezing cold temperatures against Kansas City in the Wild Card round.

Part of the reason for those poor performances was that those three teams' defenses had figured out how to limit Miami’s quick passing game. They forced Tagovailoa to hold the ball for an extra beat and took advantage of the Dolphins’ average-at-best offensive line.

Tagovailoa struggled mightily under pressure last season. When under pressure in the Dolphins’ final three games (playoffs included), Tagovailoa’s passer rating was 71.9, 62.9 and 63.9.

His previous lowest mark came in Week 12 against the New York Jets (77.5). Tagovailoa isn’t a great athlete, making it hard for him to avoid rushers and create outside of structure. When things are on time, Tagovailoa looks like an All-Pro.

When the defense throws a counterpunch, Tagovailoa looks a lot more mundane. The Dolphins quarterback spent the offseason slimming down to become a little more mobile in the pocket.

Any ability for Tua to get outside the pocket and turn negative plays into positive ones would be a huge boon to Miami’s offense, especially considering the team didn’t make meaningful upgrades on the offensive line this offseason.

However, that goes beyond Tagovailoa’s physique. Even when he was slimmer during his few seasons in the league, Tua’s arm strength held him back outside the pocket. He loses a lot of velocity when he can’t set his base, which rarely happens while on the run.

If Tagovailoa wants to enter the truly elite tier of quarterbacks, he has to prove his physical tools are good enough to put Miami’s offense on his back when things aren’t going as planned.

The Dolphins can win the AFC if Tagovailoa takes meaningful strides in this area, but it would be a massive development for a player who hasn’t changed much since entering the league.

Dante Collinelli