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Tua/Watson Questions Everywhere (And Some Answers)

The on-again, off-again rumors of a Deshaun Watson trade to the Miami Dolphins are on again and bring up more questions than usual

It's the 2021 story that just won't go away for the Miami Dolphins, and it's back in the headlines again.

We're talking, of course, about the rumors of a possible trade for disgruntled and embattled Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, and it's a story that quite frankly won't stop until a deal actually is consummated, the trade deadline of Nov. 2 passes without a trade, or Watson gets dealt to another team.

There's yet another way the story could disappear, and that would be for the Dolphins to issue the strongest possible statement declaring they have no interest in trading for Watson.

But we're not expecting that because it's been reported too often by too many credible reporters that the Dolphins have engaged Houston in discussions regarding Watson to think there's no interest.

So why are the Dolphins are so hot and heavy after Watson?

What does that say about their thoughts on Tua Tagovailoa?

Does Tua have to be traded if a Watson deal is consummated?

WHY MAKE A WATSON TRADE NOW?

Why make the trade now and not wait until after the season when there should be more clarity about Watson in light of all the sexual misconduct allegations against him?

How can an organization bring in as the face of the franchise a player with such a big cloud over his head?

What ultimately would the Dolphins have to give up to get Watson?

How much better would Watson make the Dolphins?

There are all kinds of questions associated with his particular story, which resurfaced Wednesday with a report by longtime Houston Chronicle reporter John McClain suggesting a Watson-to-Miami trade could happen as early as this week.

WATSON'S CREDENTIALS

Starting with the first and obvious question, Watson just happens to be among the top five quarterbacks in the NFL.

He's made the Pro Bowl three times in four NFL seasons, has a career passer rating of 104.5 and led the NFL in passing yards in 2020 with 4,823.

And, yes, Houston went 4-12 despite Watson's lofty numbers last season, but don't forget that the Texans were 31st in rushing offense, 32nd in rushing defense and don't forget that Watson led Houston to the playoffs in both 2018 and 2019.

But why go after Watson when the Dolphins already have Tua, who they drafted fifth overall just 18 months ago?

Well, there's no other way to put it than this is an indictment of what the Dolphins organization thinks about Tua because if there was a level of comfort that he was on his way to becoming a franchise quarterback himself, there would be no need to make such a drastic move.

The temptation here, of course, is to say it would be a move made out of desperation because the 2021 season is slipping away with the Dolphins at 1-5, but the pursuit of Watson began long before the season started.

That means the Dolphins decided after the 2020 season that Watson would represent a major upgrade over Tua.

WHAT ABOUT TUA?

But what about all the endorsements the Dolphins have given Tua in 2021, starting with GM Chris Grier saying, "Tua is our quarterback" a few days after the 2020 finale?

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Well, yes, until/if Watson joins the Dolphins, Tua is the Dolphins' quarterback, so it's not like anyone should expect any coach, teammate or front office member to offer anything but praise whenever they're asked about Tua.

The reality with Tua is that it's entirely possible he could become a solid, quality NFL quarterback in time, but he's also not there yet and there's absolutely reason to wonder whether he'll ever be special.

Like Watson special.

Isn't that then an indictment of the front office for having selected Tua in the first place if they're going to give up on him that quickly?

Well, the short answer is yes, except we just don't know exactly how the selection of Tua came about because Grier might have the GM title but it seems highly unlikely that any personnel move wouldn't have Flores' stamp of approval — and that's not even mentioning any kind of role that could have been played by owner Stephen Ross, who suggested the Dolphins might want to select Lamar Jackson in the 2018 draft and since has had to watch him tear up the NFL after Miami selected Minkah Fitzpatrick instead.

And what happens with Tua if the Dolphins do make a trade for Watson?

Well, the reflex is to say there's no way Miami could keep him around, and it indeed would create a potentially awkward situation and Tua also would become a pretty pricey backup, so logic says it would be more ideal if he were traded under this scenario.

The question, of course, is what kind of offer the Dolphins could get. Washington was mentioned as a potential destination Wednesday, but two reporters who cover the team later indicated the team has no interest in making that kind of deal.

GIVING TUA A CHANCE

But shouldn't Tua be given more of a chance to develop into a franchise quarterback?

There's some validity to that argument, though we're not quite ready to buy this notion that he hasn't had a chance to show what he can do because of circumstances beyond his control.

Look, one argument that was brought up in his favor was the lack of an offseason and preseason in his rookie year, but Justin Herbert and Joe Burrow operated under the same rules last year and both quickly showed they were franchise quarterback material.

As for the notion that the Dolphins haven't done enough to help Tua with better personnel, well, they did draft Jaylen Waddle sixth overall, they did sign Will Fuller V and did select tackle Liam Eichenberg in the second round in 2021 after trading up to get him.

So, yeah, sure, maybe the Dolphins should give Tua a longer evaluation period, but let's also not pretend he hasn't had any chance at all yet to show those signs of becoming special.

Which brings up the timing of the move — if it comes to pass.

Why now and not after the 2021 season when there'll be more clarity about Watson's situation and after the Dolphins will have had more of a chance to evaluate Tua?

Another good question, and the answer here might be twofold: One, the Dolphins are desperate for a way to turn around the 2021 season; two, if Watson's situation gets cleared up by next offseason, there logically would be more suitors willing to pay a bigger price than what the Dolphins might be giving up now.

And about that price?

Well, it's been well publicized that Houston's demands start with three first-round picks plus other assets, though it remains really hard to believe the Dolphins or any other team wouldn't look for some kind of protection with those picks, maybe making the picks conditional on the number of games Watson would end up playing.

Lastly, what about the idea of making the face of the franchise a player with almost two dozen sexual misconduct allegations directed at him?

That's more of a philosophical question and maybe it's a matter of the Dolphins doing due diligence and being comfortable with Watson's character. Or maybe it would be a move that was all about football.

Any way you slice it, there are a lot of questions — good questions — still to be answered when it comes to this potential blockbuster move.

And, more than likely, it's not like we've heard the last of it.