There will be a lot of discussion this offseason with the Miami Dolphins about what to do with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. He is going into his 5th option, his last year under contract. Some feel the Dolphins should extend him because he played all 17 games very well. General Manager Chris Grier said the goal is to extend Tagovailoa. Of course, Grier will say that because he drafted him in 2020; what else will he say?

Two other quarterbacks drafted in the same class, Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert, got their extensions. I’m not sure why Herbert got his extension because he hasn’t really done anything since coming into the league other than have people drool over his physical talent. Burrow led the Cincinnati Bengals to the Super Bowl and was one play away from winning it, so he earned it. The other quarterback in that class, Jordan Love, will get paid eventually after leading the Green Bay Packers to the playoffs and winning a game after sitting on the bench behind Aaron Rodgers for his first three years.

Tagovailoa led the Dolphins to the playoffs and played an entire season for the first time in his career, which has never happened. One of the biggest knocks on his him coming out of Alabama was his durability and always getting hurt.  He also passed for a career-high and league-high in yards with 4,624 yards and also a career-best with 29 touchdown passes. He also shows that his lack of arm isn’t an issue in making plays down the field. My problem with Tagovailoa was that down the stretch in December in big games didn’t play very well.

His stats for the season don’t tell the whole story. In the last six games of the season, including the playoff game, Tagovailoa threw six touchdown passes and five interceptions, which isn’t exactly how you want your quarterback to play in meaningful games. The offense also sputtered, and yes, there were a lot of injuries, especially with Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle hurt and missing games and clearly weren’t 100%, but Tagovailoa has to raise his level of play in key spots regardless. Whether it’s fair or not, the bottom line is that the quarterback will take the hit for the team’s failures. While the team had key injuries, it doesn’t excuse Tagovailoa’s play. He has to find a way to overcome those things and lead his team.

The Dolphins went through this before with Ryan Tannehill. They gave him an extension before his 5th-year option, and while he did have a knee injury when he came back, he never became the quarterback the team hoped for. I don’t want to see the Dolphins make the same mistake. I’m not trying to compare both quarterbacks, but Tagovailoa has to show the fans that he can lead his team in big spots, and this year, he failed. For all of his improvements statistically, they go for nothing if he can’t lead this team in key spots.


One team that has handled their quarterbacks’ contracts well is the Baltimore Ravens. In 2012, they had quarterback Joe Flacco, a talented, strong-armed quarterback drafted in the 1st round of 2008, but he had been up and down as a starter. The Ravens let Flacco play out the last year of his contract, and he raised his level of play in the 2012 playoffs to lead the Ravens to a Super Bowl Championship and won the MVP of that game. Flacco got his new contract, and I know he was inconsistent in the years after, but he won the Super Bowl with that team. Say what you want about him, but he played well in the big games that year and took his team to the Super Bowl. The Ravens then traded up to draft Lamar Jackson in 2018, who took over for Flacco and led the Ravens to the playoffs for three straight years. However, he only won 1 playoff game and then had injury-plagued 2021 and 2022 seasons at the end of the year.

The Ravens let Jackson play out the 5th year option last year and used the franchise tag on Jackson. They got a deal done, and Jackson is playing the best ball of his career this year and has his team 1 game away from the Super Bowl. The Ravens are a well-run franchise and one of the best in the league in managing their roster with contracts and the draft. It’s the course I think the Dolphins should take.

There is an argument for the Dolphins to extend Tagovailoa so they can lower his cap number, but I feel you’re kicking the can down the road if he doesn’t show he can play well in big games. I don’t want the Dolphins to make the same mistake as they did with Tannehill. I think Tagovailoa is a better quarterback, but his play in the last two games against the Buffalo Bills and in the wild-card game against the Kansas City Chiefs raised some doubts about whether he can be the franchise quarterback to take us to the next level. He has to prove he can play well in big games before giving him a new deal.