Tackling Some Tua Questions: Is the Team Disrespecting Him?

The Miami Dolphins and their starting quarterback have yet to produce a contract extension that seemed a foregone conclusion at the start of the offseason
Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) speaks to reporters during mandatory minicamp at the Baptist Health Training Complex.
Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) speaks to reporters during mandatory minicamp at the Baptist Health Training Complex. / Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
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We are now less than two weeks until Miami Dolphins veterans report for the start of training camp and, as you probably know, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa remains without a contract extension.

The topic of Tua and his extension has been discussed, rediscussed, re-rediscussed and perhaps overdiscussed throughout the offseason, hitting a high point (or maybe low point) after the quarterback's famous "The market is the market" statement following a minicamp practice.

The latest — or one of the latest — angles to the whole conversation centers around the idea that the Dolphins are "disrespecting, insulting" Tua by not having done whatever was necessary to already have gotten him that extension. Those were the exact words used in a headline for a column by longtime Miami Herald columnist Greg Cote, the headline adding the phrase "contract debacle."

But is it really disrespectful? Insulting? A debacle?

Or maybe is it conducting business with the entire organization's well-being in mind, as opposed to making sure one specific player is being taken care of?

Is it disrespectful for Tua to not have accepted already what the Dolphins have offered or is it good business on his part to try to get the best deal possible?

If the answer to the previous question is B, then why is not OK for the Dolphins to try to work out the best deal possible from an organizational standpoint while at the same time trying to satisfy Tua's demands as much as possible?

And if you're pointing to the Detroit Lions and Jacksonville Jaguars as an example of two teams that took care of their quarterback and suggesting the Dolphins are wrong for not following suit, does that mean the Dolphins have to operate like every other NFL franchise regardless of circumstance?

The Dolphins were kind of in a similar situation last year with Christian Wilkins and there were some murmurs about the team not doing right by him, but nothing even remotely within the same stratosphere as what's going now with Tua. The position of the player certainly plays a big role in that, but were the Dolphins out-and-out wrong for adopting the position they did with Wilkins?

Without even making a judgment call here, even if you want to side with the idea the Dolphins are doing Tua wrong, it's not a slam dunk.

If you want to talk "disrespectful," wouldn't it be more so for the team to ask tackle Terron Armstead to take a pay cut this offseason? Or how about drastically chopping wide receiver Albert Wilson's salary from $9.48 million to $3 million plus $1 million in incentives in 2020 — after he had worked his way back from a serious hip injury?

That, from here, is a lot more "disrespectful." Wilson took the pay cut because he was going to get released without doing so, but he technically had a choice. Just like Tua technically has a choice right now of either accepting the Dolphins offer that has been made or playing on his fifth-year option or even holding in or holding out, though holding out is cost-prohibitive because of the new CBA.


Should we be surprised that Tua isn't signed yet? That's another question we need to ask because, based on what GM Chris Grier said early in the offseason, there actually would be no reason to be shocked or even insulted.

“I think everyone, if we can do something, would like it done before the season," Grier said at the scouting combine earlier this year. "But you’ve seen over the last few years, some of these other big deals that have been done have gone all the way into training camp, because they are complicated deals to put together with the money and stuff people are talking about."

Notice how Grier even threw out "if we can do something"?

So maybe Grier knew all along this wasn't going to be as simple as merely giving Tua the best QB deal after the latest signing.

Again, is it really insulting or disrespectful?



Another topic with Tua is what happens if there's no extension and what Plan B might be.

And this is where we need to push back against the idea that the franchise tag would be a problem next issue because of the cap ramifications. And the pushback is this assumption that Tua plays on the fifth-year option, has a great year, the Dolphins have to franchise-tag him next spring.

Hmm, what about being able to work out an extension then? Or is it now or never?

Do we really think Tua is going to turn his back on the Dolphins next offseason with a competitive offer because they don't meet his demands this year? Really? When the situation couldn't be more ideal for him in Miami with the weather, Mike McDaniel and the scheme — not to mention the fastest group of skill position players in the NFL, and maybe in history?


And, lastly, we'll ask some questions about the issue of leverage and whether the Dolphins absolutely need to take care of Tua because what other option do they have?

The idea basically is if the Dolphins don't have Tua, the season falls apart because backup Mike White isn't capable of running the offense.

Hmm, what was that we were saying about "disrespectful"?

To be perfectly clear — because some fans will jump on this point without paying much attention — nobody is suggesting that Mike White is as good as Tua. He might not be anywhere near as good. The offense indeed might fall apart with him at quarterback.

But we don't know that for a fact.

Again, we do not know.

White's entire resume in this offense, with this scheme and all that speed, consists of six passes, all of them in mop-up duty playing with backup offensive players against backup defensive players.

And if you want to dismiss White because he threw a bad pick-six against the Carolina Panthers, should we not then point out that Tua threw pretty much the same kind of ugly pick-six in the Black Friday game against the Jets? Should we also not point out that White completed his other five passes and his passer rating (for those obsessed with that stat) was over 118?

One more time, we don't know what Mike White could or couldn't do in this offense because he's never legitimately had a chance to run it.

The bottom line is that the expectation remains that Tua will get a contract extension at some point in 2024, though exactly when and how remains to be determined.

In the meantime, the conversation will continue and the questions will remain.


-- Some Key Questions Regarding the Tua Contract Situation

-- The Tua Timeline and NFL Precedent

-- Tua Getting 'Antsy' Over Contract Situation

-- Tua Tabbed on Most Polarizing Player List

-- The Previous QB Success Stories in This Scheme

Alain Poupart


Alain Poupart is the publisher/editor of All Dolphins and co-host of the All Dolphins Podcast. Alain has covered the Miami Dolphins on a full-time basis since 1989 for various publications and media outlets, including Dolphin Digest, The Associated Press, the Dolphins team website, and the Fan Nation Network (part of Sports Illustrated). In addition to being a credentialed member of the Miami Dolphins press corps, Alain has covered three Super Bowls (for NFL.com, Football News and the Montreal Gazette), the annual NFL draft, the Senior Bowl, and the NFL Scouting Combine. During his almost 40 years in journalism, which began at the now-defunct Miami News, Alain has covered practically every sport at one time or another, from tennis to golf, baseball, basketball and everything in between. The career also included time as a copy editor, including work on several books such as "Still Perfect," an inside look at the Miami Dolphins' 1972 perfect season. A native of Montreal, Canada, whose first language is French, Alain grew up a huge hockey fan but soon developed a love for all sports, including NFL football. He has lived in South Florida since the 1980s.