Miami Dolphins extending their QB could be the only path forward

AFC Wild Card Playoffs - Miami Dolphins v Kansas City Chiefs
AFC Wild Card Playoffs - Miami Dolphins v Kansas City Chiefs / Jamie Squire/GettyImages

The Miami Dolphins have been cautiously evaluating Tua Tagovailoa, but it's time to consider the benefits of signing him to a long-term deal now. Push the negative media takes and fan outcry aside and lock Tua down sooner rather than later.

One of the main reasons why the Fins need to move quickly on Tua's contract is long-term cost. Waiting to sign Tua could cost the Dolphins significantly more in the long run. Look no further than the price tag of losing Christian Wilkins, who departed via free agency because the Dolphins couldn't afford him. NFL salaries are only going up, and quarterback contracts are inflating faster than a hot air balloon. By securing Tua now, the Dolphins can avoid paying a premium later when the market for quarterbacks gets even hotter.

Signing Tua now doesn't mean the Dolphins are stuck if things go south. Look at Lamar Jackson's contract with the Ravens—he got $80 million upfront and $7.5 million week-to-week. If Jackson gets hurt or becomes injury-prone again, the Ravens aren't committed to a massive long-term payout. The Dolphins can structure Tua’s contract similarly, giving them flexibility if injuries or performance issues arise. This approach provides security for both the team and the player.

Despite what some may think, there’s a strong market for Tua. Just look at the 2024 NFL Draft, where six quarterbacks went in the top 12 picks. Teams are desperate for quality quarterbacks, and Tua, the passing rating leader in 2022 and the passing yards leader in 2023, is a proven asset. Other teams would jump at the chance to sign him if he were available, driving up his value. By securing him now, the Dolphins can avoid a bidding war later.

Sure, Tua might be considered a scheme-specific quarterback, but within that scheme, he’s one of the top 14 quarterbacks in the NFL. His accuracy and quick decision-making skills make him a perfect fit for the Dolphins' system. Tua has also demonstrated leadership and resilience, standing strong despite media criticism and poor offensive line play. These qualities are invaluable for a team looking to build a winning culture.

We have a recent example of a quarterback that, to some degree resembles Tua's trajectory—Jared Goff. The former No. 1 overall pick by the Rams is a great example of a quarterback who overcame early career struggles. Initially labeled as a bust, then a system QB, Goff developed into a traditional pocket passer who excelled with the Rams and became the face of the Lions, who are now contenders. Goff's third contract included $170 million guaranteed. Tua’s contract will likely be lower than Goff's, both in total value and annual salary, making it a smart financial move for the Dolphins.

Signing Tua now is about more than just the present; it’s about securing the future. Two of Tua’s first four seasons were marred by offensive woes, stunting his growth. Recently, he’s shown flashes of what he can become. The Dolphins can structure his contract to have more of the money on the back end, leveraging the ever-rising salary cap. This approach gives the team financial flexibility while securing a talented quarterback for the foreseeable future.

The Fins signing Tua Tagovailoa is a smart move. Securing him now avoids future costs, provides long-term flexibility, and ensures they keep a highly sought-after talent. Tua has proven his worth and potential, and with a structured contract, the Dolphins can safeguard their future while building a competitive team around him. Waiting could lead to higher costs and uncertainty, so it’s time for the Dolphins to make a decisive move and sign Tua to a long-term deal.