Is Tua Tagovailoa Playing Hardball With Miami Dolphins? QB Noticeably Absent From Spring Ball

    Tua Tagovailoa's resolve to get a new contract this offseason has apparently stiffened. The QB has sat out much of the Miami Dolphins' offseason program.

    The Miami Dolphins‘ social media staff usually cannot go a few days without posting a picture or video clip of Tua Tagovailoa — especially during the season or when the team is practicing.

    But the last time they tweeted any content that featured Tagovailoa doing actual football activities? A month ago, at the start of the team’s offseason program.

    Is Tua Tagovailoa Skipping Miami Dolphins’ Offseason Program?

    There’s a reason for that hiatus, and it was revealed Friday: Tagovailoa has skipped much of that voluntary work, presumably in protest of his stalled contract extension talks, CBS Sports first reported. Pro Football Network has since confirmed the basics of that report.

    Tagovailoa’s decision to skip big chunks of the offseason program — which for now has consisted of just meetings, conditioning, and light on-field work — stands in stark contrast to his behavior his first four seasons when he was a regular attendee.

    Aside from last week’s rookie minicamp, Dolphins practices have been closed to the media.

    But that changes next week, with the start of OTAs. Reporters will have the opportunity to watch up to five practices over the next three weeks. And if Tagovailoa skips OTAs — which are optional — it’ll be a reversal of what he said his plans were when he spoke with reporters last month.

    “Just letting my agent deal with that and talk to the team about that,” Tagovailoa said. “For me, my focus is when OTAs come like, hey, you know, go to OTAs, show up, and be the best teammate that I can be.”

    The Dolphins surely would prefer their starting quarterback be around as much as possible, but they have no recourse until mandatory minicamps arrive the first week in June.

    Should Tagovailoa, who is due to earn just over $23 million under the fifth-year option this year, skip those, he is subject to a fine.

    Miami is determined not to negotiate what is expected to be a massive extension — which would make Tagovailoa one of the highest-paid players in the sport’s history — in the media.

    But when Dolphins general manager Chris Grier last addressed the matter before the NFL Draft, he seemed to suggest the team wouldn’t force a timeline to get a deal done.

    “I think it’s something that when it happens, it happens,” Grier said. “We’ve had communication with him and I’ll just leave those between the organization and his representation, and it’s been good so we’ll just keep working towards it. Him and his agent are very understanding that this is now the draft, so he’s letting us focus on that and then we’ll turn our attention to that after the draft finishes.”

    KEEP READING: Why Odell Beckham Was ‘Hesitant’ to Play With Tua Tagovailoa

    The draft was three weeks ago, and since then, Tagovailoa’s leverage has only grown.

    It’s hard to envision him taking anything less than the $212 million over four years (including $170 million guaranteed) that the Detroit Lions just pledged to Jared Goff.

    In Goff’s three years with the Lions, he’s completed 66.5% of his passes with 78 touchdowns, 27 interceptions, 7.3 yards per attempt, and a 96.5 passer rating.

    In Tagovailoa’s two seasons with Mike McDaniel as his head coach, he has completed 67.4% of his passes with 54 touchdowns, 22 interceptions, 8.5 yards per attempt, and a 102.9 rating.

    Tua led the NFL in passing yards in 2023 (4,624). Goff was second with 4,575.

    Goff was in the final year of his contract when the Lions decided to extend him. Tagovailoa likewise will be a free agent in March if the Dolphins don’t extend or franchise him.

    Tagovailoa’s teammates seemingly have his back.

    After a round of golf with Tagovailoa last week, Jalen Ramsey posted a photo of the scorecards to social media. Beneath the scores, a message scrawled in pencil:

    “PAY TUA!!!!!”

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