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Some questions about Tua: Does the team not respect him?

Some questions about Tua: Does the team not respect him?

There are now less than two weeks until the Miami Dolphins veterans report to the start of training camp, and as you probably know, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa still hasn’t received a contract extension.

The topic of Tua and his contract extension was discussed and perhaps even over-discussed throughout the offseason, reaching its peak (or perhaps nadir) after the quarterback’s famous “the market is the market” statement following a minicamp workout.

The latest — or one of the latest — aspects of the whole discussion revolves around the idea that the Dolphins are “disrespecting and insulting” Tua by not doing everything necessary to get him that contract extension already. Those were the exact words in the headline of a column by longtime Miami Herald columnist Greg Cote, with the words “contract debacle” added to the headline.

But is that really disrespectful? Insulting? A debacle?

Or is the focus in doing business perhaps more on the good of the entire organization rather than on taking care of a specific player?

Is it disrespectful of Tua not to have accepted the Dolphins’ offer yet, or is it good business for him to try to negotiate the best deal possible?

If the answer to the previous question is B, then why is it not OK for the Dolphins to try to negotiate the best deal possible from an organizational perspective while also trying to accommodate Tua’s demands as much as possible?

And if you point to the Detroit Lions and the Jacksonville Jaguars as examples of two teams that have taken care of their quarterback, and say the Dolphins are in the wrong for not following suit, does that mean the Dolphins have to act like any other NFL franchise, regardless of the circumstances?

The Dolphins were in a similar situation with Christian Wilkins last year and there were some rumors that the team didn’t treat him right, but nothing that even remotely compares to what’s happening now with Tua. The position of the player certainly plays a big role in this, but was it really wrong for the Dolphins to take that position with Wilkins?

Without making any judgments here, even if you think the Dolphins are doing Tua an injustice, this is not a foregone conclusion.

If you want to use the word “disrespectful,” wouldn’t it be even more disrespectful if the team asked tackle Terron Armstead to take a pay cut in the offseason? Or how about drastically cutting wide receiver Albert Wilson’s salary in 2020 from $9.48 million to $3 million plus $1 million in bonuses – after he recovered from a serious hip injury?

That’s much more “disrespectful” from here. Wilson took the pay cut because he would have been released without it, but technically he had a choice. Just like Tua technically has a choice now to either accept the Dolphins’ offer, play out his fifth-year option, or even wait or wait it out, even though waiting is too expensive due to the new CBA.

GRIER’S PREVIOUS PREDICTION

Should we be surprised that Tua hasn’t signed yet? That’s another question we have to ask, because given what GM Chris Grier said at the start of the offseason, there’s really no reason to be shocked or even offended.

“I think everybody would like to get it done before the season if there’s anything we can do,” Grier said at the scouting conference earlier this year. “But you’ve seen over the last few years that some of these other big deals have taken well into training camp because it’s complicated to get them done with the money and the things that people are talking about.”

Did you notice that Grier even threw in the words “if there is something we can do”?

So maybe Grier knew from the start that it wouldn’t be that easy to just give Tua the best quarterback deal after his last signing.

And again: is this really offensive or disrespectful?

Barely.

QUESTIONS ABOUT THE OPTIONS

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

And here we have to push back against the notion that the franchise tag would be a problem because of the salary cap implications. And the counterproposal is the assumption that Tua plays with the fifth-year option, has a great year, and the Dolphins have to franchise tag him next spring.

Hmm, how about if we could negotiate an extension? Or is it now or never?

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

The question of leverage

And finally, we’ll ask some questions about leverage and whether the Dolphins really need to deal Tua, because what other option do they have?

The idea is essentially that if the Dolphins don’t have Tua, the season will fall apart because backup Mike White is unable to run the offense.

Hmm, what did we say about “disrespectful”?

To be clear — because some fans will make this point without paying much attention — no one is saying Mike White is as good as Tua. He may not be nearly as good. The offense could actually fall apart with him at quarterback.

But we don’t know that for sure.

Here, too, we don’t know.

White’s entire resume in this offense, with this scheme, with all that speed, consists of six passes, all of them cleanup passes, with backup offensive players playing backup defensive players.

And if you’re going to dismiss White for throwing a bad pick-six against the Carolina Panthers, shouldn’t we point out that Tua threw pretty much the same kind of ugly pick-six in the Black Friday game against the Jets? Shouldn’t we also point out that White completed his other five passes and his passer rating (for those obsessed with that stat) was over 118?

Again, we don’t know what Mike White could or couldn’t have done in this offense because he never really had the chance to execute it.

The bottom line is that the expectation remains that Tua will receive a contract extension sometime in 2024, with the exact timing and nature still to be determined.

In the meantime, the conversation continues and the questions remain.