AFC East Reporter
The Miami Dolphins appear to be looking to simplify what appeared — at least a few weeks ago — to be an extremely complicated offseason. An ESPN report surfaced this weekend that Miami will not pursue Tom Brady if the QB chooses to play in 2023.
There was word earlier this offseason that the Dolphins would not be pursuing any other linebackers. They adhered to Tua Tagovailoa.
So why this new Brady report? Why not a report on Aaron Rodgers or Lamar Jackson or any other quarterback who might emerge in the coming months? Still, the team is set on Tua. So why are they trying to exclude anyone else?
Well, Brady and the Dolphins have a history. Miami was in trouble last year because it ran into Brady. It makes sense that the Dolphins might want to test his interest this offseason, especially with Tagovailoa struggling late in the season amid a bout of concussions.
But the Dolphins appear to be committed to Tagovailoa, even with Tua still in the concussion protocol (and missing the Pro Bowl). They’re not interested in the quarterback market right now, even if they once explored their options. This is a good sign for Tagovailoa.
“Talking to the doctors and the consultants and everybody we’ve worked with, we fully expect him to come back next year 100 percent ready to go,” Miami general manager Chris Greer said Jan. 16.
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It also bodes well for the franchise as a whole. Apparently, they think Tua will make a full recovery from the concussions. (Otherwise, they’d be exploring their QB options.) And the Dolphins figure he’ll be their quarterback for at least another year. He has the final year of his rookie deal in 2023, and then, if the Dolphins want, they can pick up Tua’s fifth-year option before May 1 to ensure he stays through 2024. That would be the last point of uncertainty this offseason — that impending decision. Tua plans to make about $22 million in 2024 under the fifth-year option.
When he was playing well, Tagovailoa was in the MVP conversation. He (and the dolphins) then went into free fall. Still, head coach Mike McDaniel had nothing but praise for Tagovailoa.
“I spent six months trying to convince people he was good,” McDaniel said on Jan. 15. “Yes, it is a challenge for him. Yes, his health is paramount. But I’d be a fool not to embrace him when he’s healthy and ready to go. We’re all going to be excited about that.”
This will help the Dolphins establish some continuity. I was wondering if Miami might consider firing one of their top coaches. The fall man of the season was — fairly or unfairly — defensive coordinator Josh Boyer. Miami is reportedly trading him for veteran DC Vic Fangio, who would be a great hire. Fangio may be to Mike McDaniel what Wade Phillips was to Sean McVay early in his Rams tenure. Fangio is an experienced defensive guru; McDaniel is an inexperienced offensive guru. They could make a great team.
So if that’s the only change that happens and the Dolphins stick with GM, HC, OC and QB, then we’re going to see an extremely similar product on the field for Miami in 2023. That’s not a bad thing. Miami was an average, if tight, team with a lot of upside. A healthy Tua and a steady Fangio should pay dividends for the team next year – and potentially for years to come.
That’s why they’re not going after Brady.
As talented and big as the G Great is, Brady is unlikely to play more than a year. Maybe two. He’s not the long-term answer to a promising Dolphins team.
Given that Tua has proven to be an astute operator in McDaniel’s system, there’s really no reason for the Dolphins to pursue QBs of similar caliber: Jimmy Garoppolo and Derek Carr. Aaron Rodgers would be interesting, as would Lamar Jackson.
Rodgers has many of the same questions as Brady. These include: When will he retire and how long will he be good? Plus, Rodgers will likely cost too much in draft capital given how many draft picks Miami spent on Tyreek Hill and Bradley Chubb over the past 12 months.
Jackson is unlikely to reach free agency. The Ravens will shut him down one way or another. If he becomes available, then the Dolphins should look at him. And they will likely be one of the 20 teams interested.
Realistically, the Dolphins can’t upgrade at quarterback. They know they can’t. That is why these reports appear. They’re looking to be contenders for years to come, and they can’t burn out their future by chasing Brady for a year.
Perhaps the Dolphins’ offseason — which I had originally pegged as uncertain — is actually solidified. They have everyone in place (even if Tua’s contract could be a distraction if Miami doesn’t get on board). They believe Tagovailoa will be healthy until early next year. And they ended up making big changes.
As shaky as things got for the Dolphins at the end of 2022, their decision to create a safety looks like a good omen for 2023.
Before joining FOX Sports as an AFC East reporter, Henry McKenna spent seven years covering the Patriots for USA TODAY Sports Media Group and Boston Globe Media. Follow him on Twitter at @McKennAnalysis.
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