Following internet reports that the Miami Dolphins may be set to trade for Deshaun Watson, additional internet reports — or more specifically, rumors — have emerged. The second set of trade rumors revolves around current Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and his future in Miami.
Would the Dolphins really trade him, even if they made a deal for Watson? Back in September, PFN Analyst and Insider Adam Beasley reported that the Dolphins could keep both Tua and Watson on the roster. But have things changed? We’re not sure. If they have, where could Tua land if a trade was completed between the Dolphins and another team?
Tua Tagovailoa Trade Rumors: Potential landing spots
Which teams might be interested in acquiring Tua during just his second year in the league if the Dolphins do, in fact, trade him? There has been lots of speculation around several teams, including the Washington Football Team, Denver Broncos, and the Houston Texans. But are any of them even interested in the second-year quarterback?
The Broncos certainly do not have a stable situation at QB. Between Drew Lock’s inconsistent play and Teddy Bridgewater’s one-year prove-it contract, Tua would provide the Broncos another shot at finding their franchise QB. Given the precarious 2022 NFL Draft QB class, the Broncos may feel that the relatively known quantity of Tua is worth the risk.
While the rumors have swirled, there have also been reports that the Broncos are not interested. Given that there is currently uncertainty surrounding the future of the coaching staff in Denver, it would seem odd to throw another QB into an already confusing mix.
Washington Football Team
Another team with uncertainty at the QB position is Washington. After they lost Ryan Fitzpatrick to a hip injury, Washington has been starting Taylor Heinicke. Heinicke has provided a spark for Washington. However, he’s produced mixed results on the field with 9 touchdowns and 6 interceptions in 2021.
If Washington were to make the move for Tua, he would almost certainly replace Heinicke as the starter when up to speed with the offense. The problem for Washington is that a trade for Tua might signal to the fanbase the team is giving up on the 2021 season at 2-4. Sitting just a game out of a Wild Card spot in the NFC, it’s too early for Washington to throw in the towel.
However, much like with Denver, sources close to the situation are saying that Washington has not been in discussions with Miami or Houston regarding a trade.
Regarding the Twitter trade rumors, Washington is not in discussions with Miami or Houston regarding a QB trade, according to a source close to the situation.
Reminder: the trade deadline is Nov. 2. Deadlines create deals but nothing happening now if at all, apparently.
— Ben Standig (@BenStandig) October 20, 2021
Interestingly, the Dolphins and Washington made a similar trade nearly 50 years ago. In 1974, Washington traded a first-round pick in the 1976 NFL Draft to obtain the rights to Joe Theismann from Miami. Theismann would not start at QB for Washington until 1978 but would go on to win a Super Bowl and be named NFL MVP in 1983.
Naturally, the Houston Texans have to be listed as a potential landing spot. Davis Mills and Tyrod Taylor are unlikely to be the long-term futures of the franchise. And if Watson is leaving, taking a flyer on Tua would make sense. The problem is that acquiring Tua would reduce the draft pick package the Texans would receive for Watson.
If Tua then turns out not to be the answer, the Texans would likely have cost themselves a reasonably high-value draft pick by acquiring Tua. If they were to make the move, Houston would need to feel confident that they could maximize Tua’s value on his rookie contract. Looking at their roster, the Texans do not appear to be in the situation to do that right now.
The end of Ben Roethlisberger’s time in Pittsburgh is not far away. The veteran QB is in clear decline, and the Steelers need a plan for the future. That plan does not appear to be on their roster at the moment, and Pittsburgh will likely have to use significant draft capital to acquire its QB of the future. A trade for Tua could be the quickest answer to preventing an entire rebuild.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints are still looking for a replacement for Drew Brees. They have a QB-friendly offense that has been built on a short, sharp passing game. That is exactly what Tua has been running in Miami. Sean Payton and the Saints simply do it better. Imagine the parallel if the Dolphins trade Tua to be Brees’ replacement, only for Tua to be the long-term answer for that franchise?
What would a trade package look like for Tua?
We rarely witness a situation quite like this one. A top college player who was selected as a top-five pick in his draft is seemingly available within two years of being selected — and during the season, to boot. We rarely see top-tier quarterbacks traded, and when we do, it’s usually later in their careers.
This past offseason, Matthew Stafford was traded for two first-round picks, a third-round pick, and Jared Goff. Some of that cost seemed to account for Detroit taking on Goff’s huge contract, but a fair chunk was just the price of acquiring Stafford.
Now, by no means is Tua as good as Stafford. However, the potential that Tua carries is the key to any valuation. If a team believes Tua still has the potential to be a top-10 quarterback, they might be willing to pay a little more than many expect.
Valuing Tua right now is almost impossible. He has started just 12 games in his career and spent his first season recovering from an extremely serious hip injury that he suffered in his final year at college. Through those 12 games, Tua has 14 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, a 64.1% completion rate while averaging 181.4 yards per game and 6.4 yards per attempt. Not exactly world-beating numbers, but not horrific either.
The Josh Rosen trade could give us a blueprint for Tua’s asking price
The trade for Josh Rosen is a pretty close example. The biggest difference is that Rosen was traded in the offseason, during the 2019 NFL Draft. Interestingly, it was the Dolphins that acquired Rosen in that deal.
When that trade was made in April 2019, Rosen had started 13 games. He’d thrown 11 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, had a completion rate of 55.2%, and was averaging 162.7 yards per game and 5.8 yards per attempt. The Cardinals dealt Rosen for a 2019 second-round pick and 2020 fifth-round choice after selecting Kyler Murray first overall in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Tua’s numbers are clearly better than Rosen’s. However, the situation is similar in that Miami might trade Tua because they are acquiring another QB. Therefore, while Miami might not have the leverage to command a significantly higher price, it should be at least somewhat more favorable.
Based on the Rosen and Stafford trades, a reasonable package for Tua would be along the lines of a first- and third/fourth-round selection. The intriguing element will be whether the Dolphins trade first Tua away to gain capital to acquire Watson, or if we see him dealt as part of a three-team deal that nets Watson.