The Miami Dolphins and Tua Tagovailoa are currently negotiating a contract that could cement the 26-year-old passer as the team’s long-term franchise quarterback. Some still have questions about whether he can thrive in that role, however.

Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel told reporters last week that the two sides were in discussions, but in his usual manner of speaking, he managed to express plenty of emotion while withholding exact details.

“You know, man, I would have an ulcer and a panic attack if I tried to forecast anything that comes to my plate on a day-to-day basis. I haven’t extrapolated in that way,” McDaniel said. “What we’re focused on is communicating with each other. The knowns are that Tua’s representation and our front office are negotiating a contract.”

McDaniel has been very supportive of Tagovailoa since taking over the head coaching position in 2022. The two of them have developed together, building one of the best offenses in the NFL.

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But for all of the success that Tagovailoa a has had on the Dolphins, even through injury, in his career, some still doubt that he can handle the workload of an every-week franchise player. In a Sports Illustrated article published earlier this week, anonymous defensive coordinators and front-office executives took turns criticizing the young player.

All the usual jabs were included. Injuries are a serious issue, even though he managed to stay healthy last season behind an elite offensive line. He’s limited as a pocket passer, and he’s lost a lot of the mobility he began his career with. He has a relatively high floor when he’s on the field, but his ceiling will never put him in the league’s top five at his position.

For all of these critiques, some of them fair, in which insiders argue that the Dolphins should be wary of a large contract, none of them refute the fact that Tagovailoa has consistently demonstrated the ability to put his team in the playoffs. He is a key part of an electric offense, one that has been built around him. In this sense, the team has already made its investment. Now it’s simply time to pay.

With Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle down the sidelines and De’Von Achane and Raheem Mostert in the backfield, it’s easy to argue that many quarterbacks would fit into Miami’s dynamic scheme. Such an argument would be beside the point, however.

The point is that Tagovailoa has already proven capable in this system. If the team hadn’t encountered brutally cold conditions in its first playoff game this season, it’s reasonable to argue that Miami could have made a deep run. Teams in the NFL seldom have the luxury of deciding between multiple options. The Dolphins have discovered Tagovailoa, surrounded him with talent and created a highly functional offense. That’s not the sort of thing you throw away.

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