Is Tua Tagovailoa’s Sporadic Offseason Attendance Becoming an Issue for Miami Dolphins?

Contract pique wasn't the reason Tua Tagovailoa missed Tuesday's Miami Dolphins OTA practice, but his absences are racking up nonetheless.

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — The big reveal of the new-and-improved Tua Tagovailoa will have to wait at least another week.

The Miami Dolphins‘ QB1 was a pre-planned no-show at Tuesday’s open OTAs. But it had nothing to do with his unresolved contract situation. Rather, he was back in Alabama for Nick Saban’s charity golf tournament.

Still it’s fair to wonder if at some point Tagovailoa’s spotty attendance at the team’s voluntary offseason program could have an impact — if not on his performance, on his relationship with the team.

Tua Tagovailoa Skips Another Miami Dolphins Work Day

Tagovailoa wants a new contract. He also wants to get better at football. Both have contributed to his decision to in large part stay away from Dolphins camp this offseason.

Tagovailoa has spent time in California this offseason working with private QB tutor John Beck. So that could explain part of his conduct.

But McDaniel didn’t shoot down a question Tuesday whose premise is that Tagovailoa has been withholding his services to make a point about still-unresolved extension negotiations.

“I don’t make a habit of speaking for other people’s mouths,” McDaniel said. “I’ll let you ask Tua. You have a good relationship.”

That was an impossibility Tuesday. Tagovailoa was out of state, leaving reporters to watch Mike White and Skylar Thompson throw to the likes of Erik Ezukanma and Je’Quan Burton in one of just five open practices of the spring.

“The good news about all is that it’s very black and white,” McDaniel added. “He has been here for offseason activities. He has not been here for offseason activities. He has been both. Important in the player-coach relationship is communication.

“I think however things play out, as long as we’re communicating and we’re on the P’s and Q’s of what we need to get accomplished, then we have a fighting chance. It’s been a good exercise in our relationship this offseason.”

Here’s what McDaniel didn’t say: Of course, the Dolphins want Tagovailoa at Team HQ every day. It’s not a big deal if Tyreek Hill or Jaylen Waddle or Raheem Mostert take a day off here or there (as all three did Tuesday).

But the quarterback is the extension of the team’s coaching staff, and teams hold these practices for a reason. They see value in them.

Instead, much of Tagovailoa’s development this offseason has been done off property. He even dropped a significant amount of weight in an effort to improve his mobility after bulking up the year before to avoid injury.

“That was a big year this past season for Tua, being able to play the entirety of it at the professional level,” McDaniel said.

“As well as having two years in a row with the same offensive play-caller. In that process, you get to find out on your own exactly where there’s different areas where you can improve your game. That’s something we directly relate, him and I, in terms of looking for those competitive advantages. I think he identified that as one for himself. The results speak for themselves. He’s svelte.”

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McDaniel did make clear Tuesday that Tua’s business is his business, and it’s not up to the head coach to play middleman between the Dolphins’ GM (Chris Grier) and their QB1.

“I don’t want any of that burden in my life,” he said. “That’s what great about the orchestration of our organization. I think it’s important that the player-coach relationship is put on a pedestal where you don’t tinker with that.

“My job is to get him better. His job is to communicate with me, how I’m doing in that process. We’re in a safe zone where we’re talking about my expertise, and not about stuff that’s not my expertise. We try to stay true to that.”

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