Alabama Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins have been attached for quite some time now. If you look on social media, we Dolphins’ fans are absolutely obsessed with Tua. Now it is easy to assume that the Dolphins relationship with Tua began at the beginning of this year, when the Dolphins were supposedly “Taking for Tua”. However, the relationship between Dolphins leadership and this kid from Hawaii is much deeper and much more complex than just a team liking a prospect.
In my opinion the relationship between the Dolphins and Tua started on January 8th 2018, the national championship between Alabama and Georgia, the game Tua became a college football legend when he was put in to start the second half, and lead a monumental comeback which included a thrilling 41 yard deep ball touchdown to win the game in overtime. At that moment, in my opinion, the Dolphins fell in love with Tua Tagovailoa just like many other football fans. Rich Eisen, who is one of the most respected NFL media members in the country said that he was told at the 2018 NFL draft in Dallas (the draft that followed that National Championship game), that “the Dolphins were going to get Tua”.
— DolphinsTalk.com (@DolphinsTalk) April 3, 2020
Fast forward to the start of this season, the Dolphins hired new coach Brian Flores and the team held an absolute fire sale trading Laremy Tunsil, Kenny Stills, and Minkah Fitzpatrick all for tons of draft picks. The national media and a lot of Dolphins fans (including myself) believed the Dolphins were, as I mentioned earlier, “tanking for Tua”. I even bought a shirt that says, “Tank for Tua, Make Miami Football great again” and I will be wearing it on draft day.
Now like any relationship, the unexpected happens, the Dolphins started turning their season around and many believed they were winning too many games to land Tua. However due to the unfortunate hip injury Tua suffered and the emergence of LSU Quarterback Joe Burrow, Tua and the Dolphins’ paths seemed to be crossing again.
Now let’s get to in my opinion, a very important day in this relationship, January 1st, 2020, the day Alabama played Michigan in the Citrus Bowl. Both Dolphins General manager Chris Greir and Owner Steve Ross were spotted at the game on the Alabama sideline. This is weird because owner Steve Ross is a Michigan alum and one of the programs biggest benefactors, so it is very interesting that he was standing on the Alabama side and not his beloved Michigan Wolverines side. Tua was also at the game, while he wasn’t playing, he was at the game on crutches. At this point Tua had not declared for the NFL draft and multiple reports said that Tua was heavily leaning on staying for his senior season at Alabama. Then all of the sudden Tua’s choice changed and he declared for the 2020 NFL draft despite his hip injury. It is my personal belief, and this is pure speculation, that the Dolphins leadership got the message to Tua and his camp that he should declare for the NFL draft.
Now let’s talk about what has been going on recently, Tua did end up going to the NFL Combine, though he didn’t do any of the drills he still met with the Dolphins. Right after the meeting a report by the Sun Sentinel said that Tua felt like he got the “cold shoulder” from the Dolphins. It seems that ever since that moment the Dolphins have been publicly trying to distance themselves from Tua, which is crazy because they have been linked together a year at this point. Even more recently, there are reports circulating that Dolphins are in “love” with Joe Burrow and want to trade up to get him, and some have reported that the Dolphins prefer Oregon Quarterback Justin Herbert. Is it a smokescreen to prevent another team from trading up for Tua? Maybe? If that is the plan, Tua and his team are not in on it, since the combine Tua has been going on TV, podcasts and doing interviews to tell everyone how healthy he is, and he has even been releasing videos of him doing drills at what appears to be him at 100%.
This all brings me to today… 19 days until the NFL draft. If you were to ask me right before the combine if Tua to the Dolphins was a sure thing I would have guaranteed it to you. Now today is a completely different story, it appears that no one can give you a definitive answer on who the Dolphins will draft this year. In my opinion, the Dolphins have been smoke screening since the combine to try and prevent a team like the Chargers from trading up for Tua. I believe that the Dolphins are still in love with Tua and will draft him on April 23rd. But in all honesty, I’m biased, Tua is my favorite prospect in the draft, I love his accuracy, footwork, timing, anticipation, athletic ability, and leadership to name just a few things. But did the Dolphins fall out of love with him? Did they fall in love with someone else? Someone like Joe Burrow or Justin Herbert? Maybe… Maybe Not. Just like a lot of relationships, things are complex and confusing. In all honesty, only time will tell… and that might be the most annoying part of it all.
- Alex Masferrer (twitter: alexmasferrer33)