The Tua Timeline and NFL Precedent

Miami Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa is expected to land a contract extension at some point this year, but when will it happen?
Jan 7, 2024; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) throws the football against the Buffalo Bills during the first quarter at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 7, 2024; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) throws the football against the Buffalo Bills during the first quarter at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports / Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
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In any discussion regarding Tua Tagovailoa's impending contract extension with the Miami Dolphins, other quarterbacks around the NFL inevitably come up.

But the names of QBs like Justin Herbert, Jalen Hurts, even Daniel Jones and most recently Jared Goff typically are mentioned in relation to the amount of money they got in their second NFL contract.

What's usually left out are timelines for when those quarterbacks got their extension.

And the reality is that most of them involved situations different than that with Tua, with one very clear exception.

Tua, of course, currently is scheduled to play in 2024 on his fifth-year option for a guaranteed salary of $23.2 million. Logic says that Tua's representation will be looking at the Goff contract with the Detroit Lions, which averages $53 million annual and includes $170 million guaranteed, as a point of reference.

While there are similarities between the two quarterbacks, and a debate can be had about where each ranks in the NFL pecking order, two differences are that Goff wasn't on his first NFL contract anymore or playing for the team that drafted him, and Goff does have a Super Bowl appearance on his resume plus another NFC Championship Game appearance.

THE USUAL TIMELINES FOR BIG QB CONTRACT EXTENSIONS

Looking at other recent first-round quarterbacks who landed second contracts with their original teams, it's not unusual that Tua's extension hasn't happened yet.

As a point of reference, Josh Allen signed his 2021 extension with the Buffalo Bills on Aug. 6; Kyler Murray got his second contract with the Arizona Cardinals on July 21, 2022; and Justin Herbert and Joe Burrow each got his extension done last summer, Herbert on July 25 and Burrow on Sept. 7.

Jalen Hurts got his lucrative extension from the Philadelphia Eagles on April 17, 2023, but his situation was different in that he was not a first-round pick and was headed into the final year of his rookie deal — unlike Burrow and Herbert, on whom the Bengals and Chargers already had exercised the fifth-year option.

THE LAMAR PARALLELS

Most national NFL reporters, including ESPN's Jeff Darlington and NFL Network's Mike Garofolo, have indicated an extension absolutely is coming for Tagovailoa sometime in 2024.

But there is precedent for letting Tua play on his fifth-year option and revisiting his situation next offseason, and it comes in the form of Lamar Jackson.

It was a little more than a year ago that Jackson signed a five-year contract extension with the Baltimore Ravens worth $260 million, but that didn't come until Jackson played the 2022 season on his fifth-year option and the Ravens then put the non-exclusive franchise tag on him the following March.

And, just like Tua, Jackson had produced some impressive accomplishments in his first four NFL seasons but still had some questions hanging over his head.

In Jackson's case, he already had been NFL MVP and helped Baltimore get to the playoffs his first three seasons.

In Tua's case, of course, he led the NFL in passer rating in 2022 and in passing yards in 2023 and helped Miami get to the playoffs the past two seasons.

But, as with Jackson, there are some questions that remain with Tua as he heads into his option year.

So while the expectation remains that Tua will get a contract extension at some point this year, let's understand there is a recent (and significant) and precedent that suggests the idea of him playing on his fifth-year option shouldn't be summarily dismissed — particularly when you consider the organization that set that precedent is among the most highly regarded in the NFL.

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Alain Poupart

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.