The Pro Bowl Games conclude Sunday with three flag football games featuring all-stars from the AFC and NFC. But the NFL‘s leader in passer rating — Tua Tagovailoa — will not be a part of the fun.
Tagovailoa is sitting out the Pro Bowl as a result of the concussion he suffered on Christmas Day — his second (at least) of the season. While Tagovailoa recently passed all the necessary tests to cycle out of the concussion protocol, his improved health came too late in the process to take his rightful place among the NFL’s Pro Bowlers.
Tua Tagovailoa (Concussion) Out of Pro Bowl Games
Tagovailoa was the AFC’s first alternate at quarterback and would have made the trip to Las Vegas this week had the timing been different.
Tagovailoa spent more than five weeks in concussion protocol. That’s a bit out of the ordinary, but understandable, considering the circumstances.
Tagovailoa suffered two diagnosed concussions in the span of three months, a total that doesn’t include the troubling symptom he displayed after hitting the back of his head on the turf in Week 3.
ESPN reported last week that the length of Tagovailoa’s stint in the concussion protocol “was deliberate and not the result of any debilitation symptoms or setbacks.”
What’s more, Miami Dolphins general manager Chris Grier insisted last month that the team’s third-year quarterback is no more at risk of being concussed again than anyone else. Brain injury experts have conflicting opinions on whether athletes who suffer multiple concussions are more prone to suffering additional ones.
But here’s what is indisputable: Doctors don’t want Tagovailoa taking any unnecessary risks. Apparently, that includes the new, non-contact Pro Bowl.
Pro Bowl Roster
Tagovailoa, the Buffalo Bills’ Josh Allen, the Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes, the Baltimore Ravens’ Lamar Jackson, and the Cincinnati Bengals’ Joe Burrow all are either unavailable or unwilling to participate in this week’s skills competition.
That ensured the AFC’s three quarterbacks in the first year of this new format wouldn’t exactly be superstars. The three participants are Derek Carr (Las Vegas Raiders), Trevor Lawrence (Jacksonville Jaguars), and — absurdly — Jackson’s backup in Baltimore, Tyler Huntley.
The NFC’s trio is only slightly more impressive: Kirk Cousins (Minnesota Vikings), Geno Smith (Seattle Seahawks), and Jared Goff (Detroit Lions). Goff is in the game because Jalen Hurts, like Mahomes, is playing in the Super Bowl.
MORE: 2023 Pro Bowl Rosters
Pro Bowl roster spots are determined by three groups of voting: the fans, coaches, and players.
Tagovailoa appearing would have been the final feather in his cap after a breakthrough 2022. The former No. 5 overall pick set career highs in passing yards (3,548), touchdowns (25), yards per attempt (8.9), yards per completion (13.7), and QBR (68.8).
Tagovailoa, who is expected to participate in the team’s offseason conditioning program beginning in April, is entering the fourth and final year of his rookie contract.
The Dolphins are permitted to sign him to an extension as soon as March 15, but a more pressing concern is whether to pick up his fifth-year option. The fully guaranteed base salary would exceed $20 million.