The Miami Dolphins are set to begin team drills on Monday as part of their voluntary organized team activities (OTAs), but uncertainty about whether starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa will participate. Sources close to the situation revealed that Tagovailoa has been absent from most voluntary offseason activities since the team reconvened on April 15. This is a departure from his consistent attendance in previous seasons, raising questions about his future with the team.

Tagovailoa’s absence appears to be contract-related. Currently playing under his fifth-year option worth $23.171 million, the former fifth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft is seeking a long-term contract extension that has yet to materialize. As the going rate for top-tier NFL quarterbacks approaches $50 million annually, Tagovailoa’s current deal leaves him underpaid.

Last season, Tagovailoa demonstrated his potential by playing in all 17 games for the first time in his career, throwing for a career-high 4,624 yards and earning his first Pro Bowl selection. Despite these achievements, questions about his durability persist, stemming from injuries during his college career and early NFL seasons.

The Dolphins, who picked up Tagovailoa’s fifth-year option last March, have expressed a desire to keep him long-term. General manager Chris Grier said that in January, there was ongoing positive dialogue with Tagovailoa’s agent, focusing on maintaining a solid relationship between the quarterback and the team.

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Tagovailoa’s strategy of using his absence from voluntary workouts as leverage for a new contract is not uncommon in the NFL. While he did make an early appearance at the Dolphins’ facilities in April, his continued absence could signal impatience with the contract negotiations. If this standoff extends into training camp, the financial penalties could grow, although the Dolphins might choose to waive or reduce these fines.

Securing a deal for Tagovailoa could provide the Dolphins with financial flexibility, allowing them to manage their salary cap more effectively and retain key players. This offseason, Miami faced cap constraints, losing valuable contributors like Christian Wilkins and Robert Hunt.

Recent deals have reshaped the market for quarterback contracts, including record-breaking agreements for players like Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert, who were drafted in the same year as Tagovailoa. These contracts, characterized by high average annual values and substantial guaranteed money, set a challenging benchmark for the Dolphins’ negotiations.

As the Dolphins begin their OTAs, they will focus on the field and Tagovailoa’s contract saga. How the team addresses this situation will have significant implications for its competitive future and the stability of its roster.

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