Dolphins GM Chris Grier: ‘Goal’ is to have QB Tua Tagovailoa in Miami long term

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At the beginning of the 2023 season, Dolphins general manager Chris Grier said the team and quarterback Tua Tagovailoa agreed to shelve contract negotiations until the offseason.

With Miami’s season coming to an end after a 26-7 road loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the wild-card round, one of the top questions this offseason will be whether the two sides strike a deal on a contract extension.

In an end-of-season news conference, Grier said the franchise wants to keep Tagovailoa in Miami.

“The goal is to have him here long term playing at a high level,” Grier said. “That’s always the goal and we’ll continue to communicate with him through the offseason here.”

Tagovailoa, 25, is set to play the final year of his rookie deal in 2024 on the fifth-year option at a fully guaranteed salary of $23.1 million. He was eligible for a contract extension last offseason but the team opted to table discussions after he missed five games in the 2022 season because of a pair of diagnosed concussions.

After the Dolphins’ loss to the Chiefs on Saturday night, Tagovailoa said he wasn’t concerned about the state of his contract.

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) scrambles in the second half against the Kansas City Chiefs at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, on Saturday, January 13, 2024.
Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) scrambles in the second half against the Kansas City Chiefs at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, on Saturday, January 13, 2024.

“I don’t feel any pressure at all,” Tagovailoa said. “I have full trust in myself. I have full trust in what I’m capable of doing for our organization, but outside of that, we’re focusing on tonight and what happened. We’re going to simmer on this and see what we can do to get better from it for next year.”

In 2023, Tagovailoa led the NFL with a career-high 4,624 passing yards and his 29 passing touchdowns were also the most he’s thrown in a season. Tagovailoa was named to the Pro Bowl for the first time in his career.

But Tagovailoa, as did Miami’s offense, struggled in the final month of the season. In the team’s last four games, including the playoff loss to Kansas City, Tagovailoa completed 61.1 percent of his passes and threw four touchdowns to four interceptions. The Dolphins finished the season on a three-game losing streak, missing out on the opportunity to win the AFC East a host a first-round playoff game.

Tagovailoa completed 20 of 39 passes for 199 yards, one touchdown and one interception in the loss to the Chiefs. He also ran three times for 25 yards.

Top-of-market extensions for quarterbacks now exceed $50 million but Grier wouldn’t commit to a specific range for a potential extension.

“We’ll work through it all,” he said. “We’ll just keep our conversations and working with him. I think everything will be productive and we’ll just see what happens.”

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) gestures during the game against the Kansas City Chiefs in the second half of the NFL wild-card playoff at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, on Saturday, January 13, 2024.
Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) gestures during the game against the Kansas City Chiefs in the second half of the NFL wild-card playoff at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, on Saturday, January 13, 2024.

2023 was the best season for Tagovailoa. After taking jiu-jitsu classes to work on the way he falls and avoid head injuries, he played in every game for the first time in his career. However, his struggles against playoff teams and in the wild-card round loss to the Chiefs, the coldest game in franchise history, reignited questions about his ability to make plays off-script and his ceiling as a starting quarterback.

“I just want to see him make sure the curve continues to be exponential in his growth,” McDaniel said. “We’ve seen at every stretch of the way him improving. That doesn’t mean it’s void of a result that isn’t desired. But what we’ve seen is him learn from all the things that he goes through. I think that’s the one thing that I can say in my two years of experience with him, is he’s as good of a learner as I’ve ever seen.

“Is Tua going to be a zone-read option quarterback? No. But I think he has developed in some — like buying extra time when necessary. I think that will continue to improve where you can just maybe move off the spot a little bit and not necessarily run for a first down, but you can extend the play. I think those things improve with a lot of things — the continuity of an offensive line group that you learn where guys are generally blocking from the launch point, and so then you know your safe spot is in the pocket. All these things, it’s all about progression. I think he just needs to continue to do what he has been doing in terms of progressing and I’ll be very much happy with that.”

Tagovailoa, the No. 5 overall pick in the 2020 Draft, has served as the face of a rebuild that started in 2019. But five seasons later, Miami has no playoff wins and has been eliminated from the postseason in the first round in back-to-back years. With the Detroit Lions defeating the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday night, the Dolphins now own the longest active playoff win drought, with 23 years that separate the franchise’s last postseason victory.

Grier, who has overseen the roster tear-down and rebuild, was asked whether the process has been a success.

“It’s a little mixed, and I only mean that because this is now year two with Mike here,” he said. “We won nine games a year ago, 11 this year. We’ve taken steps. I think we have a good roster. Whether success, failure, I leave that for you guys to judge, but I think we’re building something good that we feel good about and we’re looking forward to continuing that in the offseason towards next year.”