It’s a done deal: Tua Tagovailoa has signed his rookie deal with the Miami Dolphins.
Tagovailoa has officially signed, according to various reports, and gets a $19.6 million signing bonus that is fully guaranteed.
While a formality, everyone will be happy to see this sorted out. The rookie quarterback is expected to compete for the starting job in Miami with veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick.
We already knew what jersey number Tagovailoa will wear, and it won’t be that of one of the most legendary quarterbacks in league history.
The bulk of the NFL offseason is essentially over, with almost all the big moves being made and the draft being settled. That means we can really begin to assess who will be good next year and who did well this offseason based on free agency, trades and the draft.
Here are five teams who did the most to get better during an unusual offseason.
5. Indianapolis Colts
The Colts spent the bulk of the offseason retooling their offense, and they certainly look like they’ve succeeded. The biggest move was signing Philip Rivers to a one-year deal. He should immediately upgrade the team’s quarterback play. They also managed to upgrade through the draft despite not having a first-round pick. Adding Michael Pittman Jr. and Jonathan Taylor with the team’s first two picks should help Rivers, and proves that this team means business on the offensive end. They could be a real contender in 2020.
4. Cleveland Browns
The Browns had to fix their offensive line to give quarterback Baker Mayfield a fighting chance in 2020. They did so aggressively, adding Jack Conklin via free agency and Jedrick Wills Jr. tenth overall in the draft. That alone should bolster the offense, as Mayfield struggled to get anything going in part due to the constant pressure he was put under in 2019. Grant Delpit was a great value pick to help the secondary as well. Cleveland’s division got tougher, but the Browns got better, and that’s all they can ask.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
When you can replace Jameis Winston with Tom Brady, you’re getting better. End of story. That move headlined Tampa Bay’s offseason, combined with the rather dramatic return of Rob Gronkowski to the fold. The draft has real potential to propel them forward too. Tristan Wirfs is a great pick who will help Brady stay on his feet, while Antoine Winfield Jr. has the potential to be a sturdy NFL starter. This team is suddenly being talked about as a Super Bowl contender, as any Brady team should. That’s a huge leap forward no matter what.
2. Miami Dolphins
Given the lack of talent on Miami’s roster a year ago, they had nowhere to go but up. With money to spend, though, the Dolphins made the most of it. Miami spent heavy on defense, adding Byron Jones, Shaq Lawson, and Kyle Van Noy to what was the league’s worst unit. They brought in Jordan Howard as a legitimate backfield option. Capping it all off is the selection of Tua Tagovailoa in the draft, along with two offensive linemen to help protect him. 2020 may be a year too soon for the Dolphins, but they’re very clearly on the right track thanks to a great offseason.
1. Arizona Cardinals
Arizona’s acquisition of DeAndre Hopkins was regarded as so lopsided by most in the industry that it effectively put Bill O’Brien on the hot seat. That’s of little concern to the Cardinals, who managed to get one of the game’s best receivers while simultaneously offloading David Johnson’s bloated deal. Devon Kennard was a savvy addition at linebacker, and top draft pick Isaiah Simmons should be one of the most entertaining rookies in the league. There is some concern that they didn’t do enough to address the offensive line, but they added a lot of talent elsewhere that should push them toward .500 or better in 2020.
How much did Tua Tagovailoa’s virtual pro day help the Miami Dolphins decide to draft him?
According to coach Brian Flores, it was an “important” factor in the team’s decision-making process.
“I mean, it was important,” Flores said, via Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk. “I remember it came out, Chris [Grier] sent it to me, and we were pretty much watching it at the same time. Got on the phone after that and said you know looked pretty good, so it kind of just reinforced or confirmed some of the things that our doctors had mentioned to us. It was important. It was good to see it. He looked good in the tape, but obviously you know that is nine minutes. That is very different from having a two-hour practice or playing in a game so, but I thought he looks good for where he was and you know where he was, where he was when he initially got the injury and where he was at that point.”
The big issue was Tagovailoa’s health after his hip injury. By all accounts, he’s in good shape. Seeing him throw and be mobile — even on video — had to be at least slightly reassuring from the Dolphins’ perspective.
The Miami Dolphins have picked up another useful piece in a draft day trade.
As first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Dolphins traded a fifth round pick to the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for running back Matt Breida.
Breida is a nice, affordable pickup for Miami. He’s been a productive running back for the 49ers, averaging five yards per attempt in the first three seasons of his pro career. The 49ers deemed him expendable in part because of the emergence of Raheem Mostert, as San Francisco was able to reach the Super Bowl with limited contributions from Breida.
The Dolphins’ leading rusher in 2019 was quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, and no team had fewer rushing yards overall. They were definitely in the market for a running back, and Breida is a nice solution for them at this point of the offseason.
The Miami Dolphins have been generating the majority of the headlines leading into the NFL Draft on Thursday night, any many believe they are intentionally leaking information to fool teams into thinking they are not going to draft Tua Tagovailoa. ESPN’s Mel Kiper is now on board with that theory.
In his final first-round mock draft before the real event, Kiper predicted that the Dolphins will select Tagovailoa with the fifth overall pick. His previous mock draft had former Oregon star Justin Herbert going to Miami at No. 5 and the Los Angeles Chargers taking Tagovailoa with the next pick, but Kiper has since changed his mind. He explained his rationale during an appearance on “Get Up!” Thursday morning, noting that he thinks the way the Dolphins missed out on Drew Brees years ago could push them toward Tagovailoa.
Tagovailoa has drawn comparisons to Brees. Former Dallas Cowboys executive and Pro Football Hall of Famer Gil Brandt called Tagovailoa a “left-handed Drew Brees” and praised the former Alabama star for his accuracy. When Brees was a free agent in 2006, the Dolphins were on the verge of signing him before a doctor raised concerns about his surgically repaired throwing shoulder. Miami traded for Daunte Culpepper instead, Brees signed with the New Orleans Saints and the rest is history.
Kiper and others believe the Dolphins will keep the Brees situation in mind when making a decision about Tagovailoa. If not for Tua’s injury history, he would have had as good of a shot as Joe Burrow to be the top overall pick. Drafting him will carry a risk, but Miami chose not to take a similar risk with Brees 14 years ago and has regretted it since.
One report this week claimed the Dolphins are looking to trade up for a non-QB, but it would be downright shocking if they actually did that. We’ve thought all along that they are enamored with Tagovailoa, and our opinion hasn’t changed.
The Miami Dolphins are widely expected to take a quarterback with their first pick in Thursday night’s NFL Draft, but it seems like the player they covet the most is one that has essentially already been taken off the board.
The Dolphins have called the Cincinnati Bengals multiple times in recent weeks to see if the No. 1 overall pick is available for trade, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports. They have been stonewalled every time.
The Dolphins have three picks in the first round — No. 5, No. 18 and No. 26. That should, in theory, put them in a strong position to be able to move up the board, but all indications have been that the Bengals have settled on Joe Burrow with the top pick and have zero intention of entertaining offers for him. Some wondered if Miami would overwhelm the Bengals with an offer prior to the start of the draft, but the chances of that happening are slim to none.
With Burrow off the table, the Dolphins reportedly have a deal in place with another team to move up two spots. The big question is which player they are planning to draft at No. 3.
The Detroit Lions have been fielding phone calls for the No. 3 overall pick in Thursday’s NFL Draft, and they may have a taker.
The Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero reports that the Lions are planning to pick in the Dolphins’ spot at No. 5, which suggests the teams would be swapping first-round picks.
There has been noise about the Dolphins wanting to move up to No. 3, but it was supposedly for an offensive lineman. That makes little sense.
If Miami wants to move up that high, it’s probably to take a quarterback. We have long believed they want Tua Tagovailoa, and a trade would fit in with that desire. Detroit still might be able to draft Jeff Okudah at No. 5, so a move down by two spots would make sense for them.
The Miami Dolphins currently hold the fifth overall pick in Thursday’s NFL Draft, and the wide-ranging assumption is that they will take a quarterback at that spot. However, they are reportedly interested in moving up the board to put themselves in position to draft an … offensive lineman?
Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that the Dolphins have been calling teams ahead of them to determine if they can trade up. The most interesting part of the report is that they are supposedly not looking to move up for Tua Tagovailoa or Justin Herbert.
There are several offensive linemen that could go in the top 10, and the Dolphins would likely take either Alabama’s Jedrick Wills Jr. or Georgia’s Andrew Thomas if they draft a player at that position with their first pick. Miami has three picks in the first round, but it seems highly unlikely that they would be able to get Tagovailoa or Hebert at No. 18 overall.
The Dolphins could either be simply doing their due diligence or trying to deceive other teams. But if they’re serious about trading up for an offensive lineman, that would not be a popular move among fans. It could also open the window for a certain division rival to rocket up the board in pursuit of Tagovailoa.
Should the Dolphins pass on both Tagovailoa and Herbert, fans will immediately start the “tanking” talk again. Some believe they may actually want to put themselves in position to draft Trevor Lawrence next season, and not taking a quarterback in the top five would breathe life into that theory.
There has been some buzz recently about the possibility of Justin Herbert being drafted by the Miami Dolphins, but that may not happen.
Pro Football Network draft expert Tony Pauline published a good notes column about the draft on Monday that you should read. Among his notes, Pauline said the Dolphins are not planning to take Herbert with the No. 5 overall pick.
This report runs contrary to a prediction from ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr., who recently said the Dolphins would take Herbert over Tua Tagovailoa. Pauline says if Miami does not go with a quarterback, they have interest in offensive lineman Andrew Thomas.
We have said all along that we believe Miami has long coveted Tagovailoa and will take him, even though all the talk has been about the former Oregon quarterback rising up draft boards. We will find out on Thursday what Miami is really planning in the draft. They haven’t had a true franchise quarterback since Dan Marino though, so it would be surprising if they did not try to resolve that matter.
The Cincinnati Bengals have been on the clock for the NFL Draft since the conclusion of the 2019 season, and it seems all but certain that they are going to select former LSU star Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick. However, nothing is official until the draft card has been submitted, and the Miami Dolphins could make an aggressive push to move up to first overall at some point in the next several days.
The Dolphins have three first-round picks — No.’s 5, 18 and 26 — in the upcoming draft, and Ben Volin of The Boston Globe believes there is at least a “small chance” they could overwhelm the Bengals with an offer for the top overall pick before Thursday. Miami has been desperate to find stability at quarterback since the Dan Marino era, and Cincinnati could still end up with one of the top QBs in the draft even if they make a trade with the Dolphins. If the Bengals believe in Tagovailoa’s upside and aren’t overly concerned about his health, a deal with the Dolphins might make sense.
Still, it is very unlikely. The Bengals have given no indication that they are open to trading the top overall pick, and it has been assumed for months that they are going to take Burrow. There was some chatter in February that Burrow could pull an “Eli Manning” and refuse to play for Cincy, but Burrow has said he will gladly play for whichever team drafts him and seems to have had a positive meeting with the Bengals’ brass a few weeks ago.
Tagovailoa’s rising stock adds another element of intrigue to the draft. Had it not been for the hip injury he suffered that required surgery, the former Alabama star would have had just as much of a chance as Burrow to go No. 1 overall. We have heard some rumblings that another team could make a big move up the board for him, so all options appear to still be on the table.