Fact or Fiction: The Dolphins Should Wait Until 2025 to Extend Tua Tagovailoa

Miami could wait one more season before deciding whether he should be paid like some of the league’s top earners. Plus, thoughts on Ja’Marr Chase, Nico Collins and Russell Wilson.
Tagovailoa throws at Dolphins minicamp heading into his fifth season
Tagovailoa throws at Dolphins minicamp heading into his fifth season / Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Tua Tagovailoa is well aware of what the market is for star quarterbacks in the NFL, having perhaps hinted that he wants his next deal to be similar to the four-year, $212 million contract extension Jared Goff and the Detroit Lions recently agreed to. 

Tagovailoa recently said he’s “ansty” about the contract negotiations that have taken place between his representatives and the Miami Dolphins. Both sides want to get a deal done, but they might not be close on the financial numbers. 

Had Tagovailoa guided the Dolphins to multiple playoff wins last season, like Goff did for the Lions, he probably would have been on the practice field for the team’s mandatory minicamp and not talking about his nerves to reporters. 

There’s a chance Tagovailoa might be waiting another season for his contract extension. And the same can be said for Cincinnati Bengals star wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, after Justin Jefferson reset the market for the position. 

Let’s take a look at Tagovailoa’s and Chase’s contract dilemmas to kick off this week’s edition of “Fact or Fiction.”

Dolphins should wait until 2025 to pay Tua Tagovailoa 

Manzano’s view: Fact

Chicago Bears GM Ryan Poles might have prematurely said that rookie Caleb Williams is a quarterback you “win because of” rather than “win with.” Williams still has to prove that heading into his first season, and the same can be said for Tagovailoa heading into his fifth. 

The Dolphins might also view Tagovailoa as a quarterback you “win with” and that could be why the two sides haven’t agreed on a lucrative contract extension that compares to what his 2020 draftmates Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert agreed to last year.  There are two categories of quarterbacks so far deemed worthy of a contract averaging $50 million per season. To piggyback on Poles’s idiom, some are supremely talented quarterbacks capable of carrying their teams on any given day, regardless of the situation on the field. Burrow, Herbert and Lamar Jackson fall under this category, and that’s why they’re three of five quarterbacks making north of $50 million per season. 

The other two making $50 million per year are Jalen Hurts and Goff. They fall under the category of postseason winners, quarterbacks you might win with and who benefit from the system and surroundings, but often step up when it matters most. Goff and Hurts have each played in a Super Bowl.

Tagovailoa hasn’t proven himself in either category—the Dolphins went 1–6 against teams with a winning record last year and haven’t won a playoff game in his career. He’s shown the potential to be in one of the two categories mentioned above after his sensational 2023 season. He padded his stats (leading the league in passing yards) and stayed healthy the entire year, but he still has plenty to prove. The Dolphins might be better off waiting to pay Tagovailoa during the ’25 offseason and perhaps playing the franchise tag game. 

Bengals should rush to re-sign Ja’Marr Chase

Manzano’s view: Fiction

This answer should be an emphatic fact, but that changed last week after Jefferson signed a monster contract extension with the Minnesota Vikings that included $110 million guaranteed with $88.7 million due at signing. A few years might go by before another wide receiver surpasses those financial numbers for guaranteed money. 

Perhaps only Chase and Dallas Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb have a shot of matching Jefferson’s contract numbers, but based on production, it might be tough because Jefferson has broken many records through the first four seasons of his career and is viewed by many as the best at his position. The Bengals can now offer Chase a contract below what Jefferson received, with hopes of Chase taking it because a potential injury during the season could diminish the value of his extension. 

But Chase might bet on himself, hoping to deliver a dominant season to possibly top Jefferson’s contract next offseason. With time now on their side—Chase still has two seasons on his rookie deal—don’t expect the Bengals to rush toward handing out a record-breaking contract to their dynamic weapon.   

Texans WR Nico Collins compares to Andre Johnson

Manzano’s view: Fact

C.J. Stroud recently had high praise for his No. 1 target, Nico Collins, saying, “He’s our Andre Johnson.” Now Stroud didn’t say he’s as good as the Hall of Fame wide receiver who spent 12 seasons in Houston, but he did rattle off similarities between Collins and Johnson, and he’s not wrong. 

The 6'4," 215-pound Collins, one of the league’s most underrated playmakers, has the rare blend of speed and strength to beat defenders near the line of scrimmage and with contested catches. He displayed those flashes during his first two seasons before taking off in 2023 with Stroud as his new starting quarterback. Collins had career highs in receptions (80), receiving yards (1,297) and touchdowns (8) and recently agreed to a three-year, $72.7 million contract extension. 

He’s not Johnson, but he has the potential to be just as good. For now, he’s Stroud’s “Andre Johnson” and that’s with Stefon Diggs now on the roster. That should end the debate about which wideout is the No. 1 option in Houston. 

Steelers need to name Russell Wilson the starter now

Manzano’s view: Fiction

Wilson has been the Pittsburgh Steelers’ QB1 throughout the offseason, and it will probably remain that way for their mandatory minicamp this week and heading into training camp in late July. That likely means there won’t be a true quarterback competition this summer between Wilson and Justin Fields. If that’s the case, the Steelers might regret the decision because Wilson is in need of competition after back-to-back subpar seasons with the Denver Broncos.

Yes, Wilson does have plenty of motivation to prove he’s not a diminished quarterback, but if he’s truly the same player from his Seattle Seahawks days, then competing with Fields shouldn’t be an issue. The Steelers might be playing it too safe because they want an experienced quarterback to run an efficient camp after the tumultuous two-year stint with Kenny Pickett. But Fields probably has more upside than Wilson at this point, and they should at least explore the possibility of utilizing the strengths of the former Bears starting quarterback. 

Gilberto Manzano