Miami spent big last year. Now, the Dolphins offseason starts with their QB.
The Miami Dolphins‘ Super Bowl window may have just opened, but the franchise already has some decisions to make to determine how long it stays that way.
The folks in South Beach were the talk of the 2022 NFL offseason — for both good and bad reasons. But if we’re talking strictly about the product on the field, the ‘Fins went out and shocked most fans by splurging in the offseason with $512.2 million worth of acquisitions. That was the fourth-highest among NFL teams, trailing only the Los Angeles Rams, Las Vegas Raiders, and Cleveland Browns.
Out of those four teams, Miami was the only one to make the postseason, yet the Dolphins remain without a playoff win since 2000. In the first year of Tyreek Hill’s four-year, $120 million contract, the four-time All Pro WR set career highs for targets, receptions, and yards. Hill and Jaylen Waddle combined for the third-most receiving yards (3,066) by a teammate duo in league history, per NFL Research.
They paid free agent OT Terron Armstead $75 million over five years. Their midseason acquisition of Jeff Wilson Jr. paid off as the run game steadily improved behind him. And the newly hired 39-year-old head coach, Mike McDaniel, showed that he’s capable of running a competent football team.
But once again, quarterback was the Dolphins’ major issue. Tua Tagovailoa was fantastic when he was available. Key words: When he was available. The former fifth-overall pick dislocated his hip during his junior year at Alabama and hasn’t been able to stay healthy enough to field a full season since.
As far as we know, Tua suffered two concussions in the span of two months in 2022, which forced him to miss all or part of five games (including the playoff loss against Buffalo). His first concussion was so bad that the NFLPA fired the neurotrauma consultant who allowed Tua to re-enter a Week 3 matchup against the Bills.
Tua is the Dolphins Offseason Priority
Tua led the NFL in TD% (6.3), yards per completion (13.7), and QB rating (105.5). The Dolphins finished 2022 with the fourth-best passing offense with an average of 265.4 passing yards per game. But for a third straight year since drafting Tua, the Dolphins were forced to rely heavily on backups — this year Teddy Bridgewater and then Skyler Thompson. Some might argue that the ‘Fins would still be playing had Tua (or even Bridgewater) been available last week.
When teams prioritize their present and future, the QB is mostly the No. 1 priority and dictates a franchise’s trajectory. Has Tua been available enough to warrant an early contract extension as he becomes eligible alongside the likes of Joe Burrow, Jalen Hurts, and Justin Herbert? Especially when the market indicates the lefty QB is worth roughly six-years and $238.5 million?
“I would say with Tua he is our starting quarterback,” Dolphins GM Chris Grier said on Monday. “I mean, I don’t know how we can say it anymore clearly. We’ve been that way through this season and what he’s done. What Mike and Tua, (Darrell) Bevell, Chandler (Henley), the coaching staff have all done. They’ve all worked tremendously hard all of them together.”
Entering the 2023 offseason, Grier emphasized that a long-term deal is one of the main focal points of the Dolphins offseason.
“Everything is on the table for us,” he said.
As it should be. But first, Miami needs to figure out a way to get Tua proper protection — that’s priority No. 1.
2022 Dolphins Salary Cap Details
Active contracts: $150,578,895
Dead cap money: $18,362,205
Total salary cap usage: $208,357,598
Salary cap space: $4,242,402
Key Free Agents: Jeff Wilson, Trent Sherfield, Raheem Mostert, Mike Gesicki, Teddy Bridgewater, Erik Rowe.
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