Many pundits have compared Tua Tagovailoa to Drew Brees in the past, and after Tua’s fourth season, I thought it would be interesting to look into how the two measure up after their first four years as starting Quarterbacks.

This exercise led me down memory lane to the off-season when the Dolphins had a chance to sign Drew Brees, which led me to address a segment of the fanbase that seemingly always has something negative to say about Tua Tagovailoa.

It seems that most of the extreme Tua detractors don’t remember the Drew Brees, Daunte Culpepper fiasco, or the 2006 off-season.

It’s a very interesting case study for those who weren’t watching football then. For those of us who lived it, it still feels like yesterday.

Let’s take a little trip back in time. The 2005 season ended with the Patriots winning Superbowl XXXIX over the Eagles. Nick Saban was the Dolphins’ head coach, who would soon leave us in a David Blane-style disappearing act in the middle of the night for Alabama. We had just missed the playoffs with a 9-7 record. That year, we had a decent defense, with Dolphins legends Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas leading the team, while long-time NFL journeyman Gus Frerotte was our quarterback.

Frerotte was universally viewed as the weak link on the roster. He started 15 games in 2005, with 18 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. The Dolphins were looking for an upgrade, and two extremely interesting quarterbacks were hitting the market. Drew Brees was a free agent, and Daunte Culpepper was unhappy in Minnesota and wanted to be traded.

Daunte Culpepper and Drew Brees were both very talented quarterbacks, but there was a catch… they both were coming back from serious injuries sustained during the 2005 season.

Daunte Culpepper had torn three ligaments in his right knee from being sandwiched between two defenders while scrambling in what was, to this day, one of the ugliest injuries you’ll ever see on a football field.

Drew Brees took a hit late in the ’05 season. They ended up completely dislocating his right shoulder and partially tearing both his labrum and rotator cuff while trying to recover a fumble in the Chargers final game of the 2005 season.

If my recollection serves me right, the Dolphins media was more concerned with Brees’s injury than Culpepper’s. Remember, this was 2005, and surgeons had just started revolutionizing the speed and success rate of major knee and shoulder operations. The fanbase had major discussions about which quarterback would bounce back and which would not because, in 2005, injuries like these often ended players’ careers.

Culpepper was a mountain of a man, 6’4″, 260 lbs. He had a cannon of an arm, made famous by his connection with Randy Moss in Minnesota, and he was also a threat to defenses with his legs. Culpepper only played in 7 games in 2005, but in 2004, he threw for 39 touchdowns, 4,417 passing yards, and 406 yards rushing.

Depending on who you ask, Culpepper was the popular choice at the time.

Drew Brees hadn’t yet had quite the success Culpepper had in the league. Brees played with the San Diego Chargers for five seasons, with a 30-28 record, and the Chargers drafted his replacement in 2004, Phillip Rivers. So, injury or not, Brees’s time in San Diego was coming to an end.

Brees wasn’t the biggest, 6’0″, 209 lbs. Or the most mobile, having only rushed for 368 yards in 5 seasons. But Brees had shown flashes; he was a very accurate passer, and in 2004, his fourth year as a pro, he led the Chargers to an 11-6 record, throwing 27 touchdowns and 3,159 yards. The Chargers lost in the Wildcard round of the playoffs in a 20-17 overtime loss to the Jets.

So, the debate began, should we sign the small, accurate, non-mobile Brees or the athletic, prototype, rocket arm Culpepper?

The history of the two franchises changed on March 14th, 2006, a fateful day. The Saints signed free-agent quarterback Drew Brees, and the Dolphins traded a second-round pick to the Vikings for Culpepper on the same day.

Culpepper’s knee was never the same, however, and it was evident on the field. He had lost his mobility, and it changed him into a player. Through the first four games of the 2006 season, Culpepper was sacked 21 times. And that was it for his career with the Dolphins. After those four games, he was benched to continue rehabbing his knee, and the Dolphins traded for his replacement later that year from the Kansas City Chiefs in the form of Trent Green. Culpepper went 1-3 as the Dolphins starter with two touchdowns and three interceptions.

Drew Brees really needs no introduction. His legendary career with the Saints will earn him a gold jacket when he is eligible and got him a Super Bowl ring. Brees is second all-time in passing yards and touchdowns, behind only Tom Brady.

Tua Tagovailoa may not be the biggest or the most mobile, but he shares many of the same traits Drew Brees possessed. Will Tua end up with the same success stories as Drew Brees? Probably not, Brees is 2nd all-time in most categories. But when you compare Tua’s and Brees’s careers through four seasons as starters, the numbers are very similar: Brees’s 30-28 record and Tua’s 32-19. Brees had 80 touchdowns, and Tua had 81. Brees had 12,348 yards, and Tua has 12,639 yards.

If you’re one of the small segments of the Dolphins fanbase that wants to move on from Tua, just remember, it could be worse.