Questions surrounded the Miami Dolphins and quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in his first two seasons as a professional football player. With training camp set to begin next week — those questions seem destined to continue in year three.
The San Francisco 49ers granted quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, and his agents, permission to find a trade partner, and one anonymous NFL personnel executive explained to Heavy that a move to Miami might be in the cards.
“I know this,” the executive said. “Jimmy G is way more liked in league circles, as a player, than Tua is. He’s accomplished way more, and that matters at that position, almost more than anything else. And, remember, Mike McDaniel knows Jimmy really well.
“With a new head coach, all [McDaniel] cares about is winning and winning now,” the executive added. “He could be looking at Tua, shaking his head and saying ‘eh, I don’t know.’ Maybe he loves him … But, if he hasn’t seen enough from him during workouts or OTAs, this is his honeymoon with that ownership and front office, make the deal now.”
There’s plenty to unpack with this speculation and it is noteworthy that McDaniel and Garoppolo have a successful track record together. Additionally, Tagovailoa and Garoppolo have similar playing styles and are in the same ballpark in terms of completion percentage (66.2% to 67.7%), which ignites hope that McDaniel can replicate an offense that averaged four more points per game than the Dolphins and reached the NFC conference championship game a season ago.
The link between Garoppolo and McDaniel is an obvious one, but there are a few things to keep in mind when shuffling rosters like it’s Madden 23. Tagovailoa’s contract is guaranteed through 2023 and the team added Teddy Bridgewater in free agency, which puts Miami at No. 17 in the league with $15,482,492 in cap space dedicated to the quarterback position.
While both the 49ers and Dolphins are planning to start the year with quarterbacks on rookie contracts, San Francisco currently ranks third, with $37,425,451 in cap space, dedicated to the quarterback position this year — with Garoppolo taking up 12.68% of the team’s cap space this season.
It’s hard to imagine a world where San Francisco doesn't absorb a large portion of that contract in a trade like Miami did with Ryan Tannehill. However, it’s more difficult to see the Dolphins using a chunk of their 17,163,447 of cap space, which is sixth-most in the league, on a third quarterback — especially when you consider the other moves Miami made this offseason.
The Dolphins made Tyreek Hill the second-highest paid receiver in the league, which is much easier to do with a quarterback on a rookie deal. That reasoning goes for why Terron Armstead received the fifth-largest contract among left tackles this offseason. The same is true for the cornerback position, where Xavien Howard and Byron Jones have two of the seven largest contracts among cornerbacks in the NFL.
After re-tooling the roster with hopes of Tagovailoa living up to the No. 5 pick in the 2020 NFL draft, changing the blueprint this late into the offseason doesn’t seem to make much sense for Miami.
There are obvious similarities in how Garoppolo and Tagovailoa play, and there is likely some urgency for McDaniel to win now — considering the Sean Payton rumors haven’t died down just yet, but if a new quarterback was wanted in Miami, there’s no reason a trade wouldn’t have been made months ago. Keep in mind, it’s no secret that San Francisco has been trying to trade Garoppolo all offseason.
Somehow, the Dolphins are always linked to these rumors and they’re fun to dissect, but a Garoppolo and McDaniel reunion seems more like an attempt to create a market for the 30-year-old quarterback than an actual possibility.