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    Disrespect or Good Business? The Truth About Miami Dolphins-Tua Tagovailoa Contract Impasse

    The Miami Dolphins have an unhappy quarterback on their hands. But is giving Tua Tagovailoa the contract that he wants the right move?

    Miami Dolphins veterans report to training camp in 15 days. And for the first time in a long time, it’s no sure thing that every Dolphins player will be present for the start of camp.

    Six months into the offseason, Tua Tagovailoa remains among the NFL‘s most underpaid players.

    If a deal doesn’t get done soon, this offseason story bleeds into the preseason. And given the stalled talks, it’s fair to wonder if Tagovailoa will choose the nuclear option and refuse to report to team HQ for the start camp.

    Tua Tagovailoa’s Contract Update

    Training camp holdouts have vanished since the new CBA — with massive fines for missed mandatory practices — went into effect. But if there’s one scenario in which such a negotiating tactic would make sense, this is it.

    If Tagovailoa missed all of training camp and the Dolphins’ three preseason games, he would be forced to pay more than $5 million in fines.

    That’s a staggering sum and more than he’s made in any of the last three seasons, but it’s not even a quarter of what he is owed in 2024 ($23.2 million on the fifth-year option), and it’s just a fraction of what he wants.

    If a $5 million holdout results in $10 million more in his pocket over the next few years, a holdout is good business.

    Tagovailoa made national headlines last month when he said that “the market is the market” for in-their-prime quarterbacks. What he didn’t say: The market for a player of his caliber is in excess of $50 million a year.

    It’s a safe assumption that the Dolphins and Tagovailoa are in the same ballpark when it comes to AAV. It would be foolish for the Dolphins to even offer him anything substantially less than the $53 million a year that the Detroit Lions just gave Jared Goff.

    That range is the going rate for B+ quarterbacks when the salary cap is north of $250 million.

    MORE: A Max QB Salary Structure Would Quickly End the Tua-Dolphins Impasse

    But not all $50-million-a-year contracts are created equal. Goff’s deal included “just” $113.6 million fully guaranteed at signing. Justin Herbert, meanwhile, signed a deal 12 months ago that averages a half-million less per season but has $20 million more in at-signing guarantees and about $48 million more in total guarantees.

    Deshaun Watson, Joe Burrow, Trevor Lawrence, and Lamar Jackson also secured extensions that included more than $130 million fully guaranteed at signing.

    Are the Miami Dolphins To Blame for Tua Mess?

    And that’s what most believe is the sticking point in the Tagovailoa negotiations. Tagovailoa’s side presumably wants the Dolphins to give him that nine-figure security. The Dolphins, meanwhile, are apparently not prepared to do that.

    Regardless of what you might have heard or read elsewhere, Miami’s apprehension is not disrespect. It’s simply good business.

    The Dolphins would take a massive step back as a franchise if they lost Tagovailoa to free agency, but they would be foolish if not totally reckless to put themselves in that financial straitjacket given Tagovailoa’s history.

    He missed 10 games due to injury in his first three seasons and considered retirement just 18 months ago after sustaining multiple brain injuries.

    The Dolphins can be forgiven if they don’t want to commit a sixth of a billion fully guaranteed dollars to a player who has zero playoff wins and zero seasons of 30 or more touchdown passes.

    Tagovailoa is a very good player, and the Dolphins should make every effort to lock him up long-term.

    KEEP READING: What Mike McDaniel Wishes He Could Say About Tua Tagovailoa

    But without knowing exactly what they have offered to Tagovailoa this offseason, it’s unfair to blame them solely for what is looking more and more like an acrimonious August in South Florida.

    If he’s not one of the five best quarterbacks in the world, the Dolphins shouldn’t have to pay him like he is.

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