If the Miami Dolphins were to acquire a young, elite quarterback unexpectedly, prompting Tua Tagovailoa to become available for trade or free agency, the level of interest and offers he might attract becomes a crucial consideration. The question arises about how many teams would reach out to General Manager Chris Grier regarding the former Alabama standout, for whom the Dolphins intentionally struggled during the 2019 season.

In a hypothetical scenario where Tagovailoa could be bid on by any team, given his impressive track record, including being the NFL’s top-rated passer in 2022 and the 2023 passing yards leader, the demand for his services becomes a central point for Grier and the Dolphins’ decision-makers. Comparisons to other quarterbacks, such as Kirk Cousins, Baker Mayfield, Russell Wilson, and Jimmy Garoppolo, who might be on the trade or free-agent market, also come into play during negotiations to understand the leverage dynamics.

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The crux of the matter lies in the negotiations for Tagovailoa’s contract extension, with his camp pushing for a long-term deal to replace his fifth-year option, which guarantees $23.2 million for the 2024 season. While a long-term deal could provide short-term benefits by lowering Tagovailoa’s cap hit, the Dolphins, facing significant salary cap constraints, must carefully navigate the financial implications. The challenge is heightened by the escalating price tag for young quarterbacks, with examples like Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, Jalen Hurts, and Lamar Jackson.

The Dolphins initially aimed to build a strong roster with foundational pieces while benefiting from Tagovailoa’s affordable rookie deal. However, as his price rises, the team faces increased pressure on the personnel department to draft effectively and acquire cost-effective free agents. Some skeptics argue for making Tagovailoa play on his fifth-year option and then using the franchise tag for the 2025 season, a more conservative financial commitment but challenging from a salary cap standpoint.

Concerns also linger about Tagovailoa’s performance in crucial moments and durability, given his injuries before the 2023 season. The dilemma for the Dolphins is whether to propose a long-term commitment immediately or take a more conservative approach, potentially using a franchise tag and playing hard in negotiations over two seasons.

The suggestion is to make a fair but conservative multi-year offer to Tagovailoa, similar to the Kyler Murray range, and, if necessary, let the process play out in 2024, having him play on the fifth-year option. Additionally, it is advised to observe the contracts and interest garnered by quarterbacks like Cousins, Mayfield, Wilson, and Garoppolo during the offseason to set a more realistic quarterback pay structure, providing a valuable reality check for Tagovailoa and his camp. The overarching advice is not to rush the proposal and let the evolving quarterback market dynamics guide the negotiation process, emphasizing the importance of patience when holding the leverage.

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