Chris Perkins: Change winds appear to be blowing through Tua's world, and contract talks with Dolphins seem to be a factor

Chris Perkins, South Florida Sun Sentinel on

Published in Football

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — We didn’t hear from Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa on Tuesday, the second day the Dolphins were on the field for organized team activities and the first day media was allowed to view the entire 90-minute session.

Tagovailoa missed Tuesday’s OTA because he was attending a charity golf tournament that Alabama coach Nick Saban, his former college coach, is sponsoring.

Tagovailoa’s absence on Tuesday wasn’t a big deal.

About 15 other Dolphins starters missed Tuesday’s session for different reasons.

But Tagovailoa’s absence from other offseason workouts has been significant in the bigger picture.

From afar, it seems change winds are blowing through Tagovailoa’s world for whatever reason(s).

I think Tua’s contract negotiations are a factor for his absences and actions.

Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel wouldn’t go there.

“I don’t make a habit of speaking for other people’s minds,” he said. “I’ll let you ask Tua. You guys have a good relationship.”

Still, let’s stack up the recent happenings between Tua and the Dolphins.

Don’t just consider the recent report of Tagovailoa skipping some of the Dolphins’ voluntary workouts that began April 15, something we haven’t seen previously and something McDaniel confirmed Tuesday.

Consider also that he’s reportedly chosen to work with his private quarterback coach (former Dolphins quarterback John Beck) during this time, and seems to have a different/tweaked throwing motion.

Consider the recent report that Tua turned down a contract offer from the Dolphins.

Consider that he appears to have lost a noticeable amount of weight, perhaps 15 to 20 pounds, which is interesting considering that’s roughly the amount of weight he added last offseason in an effort to stay healthy.

“He’s svelte,” McDaniel quipped.

Presumably all of this is happening with the Dolphins’ approval even if none of it was their idea.

Again, we won’t know until we hear from Tagovailoa.

By the way, I hope we get “Salty Tua” when Tagovailoa speaks again, the Tua who tells everyone, “Screw you if you don’t believe in me or my team!”

That’s my favorite version of Tua.

That’s also the Tua that needs to surface in contract talk tactics, meaning a training camp hold-in (player reports and attends meetings, but doesn’t participate in on-field activities) could remain a possibility.

Everything should be on the table for Tua in this negotiation even though I ultimately favor the Dolphins.

And let’s keep perspective here.


I’m not saying Tagovailoa is making earth-shaking changes in his world.

I’m saying the timing of these changes, a couple of them previously unseen, going on at the same time contract talks are underway is interesting.

It seems as though Tua is posturing.

Expectations are sky high for the Dolphins in 2024.

You could argue the Dolphins have their best three-man receiving trio ever among wide receivers Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle and Odell Beckham Jr.

You could further argue among Tagovailoa, Hill, Waddle, Beckham and McDaniel, this is the most-gifted set of offensive tools the Dolphins have had since the hallowed Marino-Shula-Marks Brothers era (with quarterback Dan Marino, coach Don Shula, and wide receivers Mark Duper and Mark Clayton).

So it would seem more important than ever for Tagovailoa to be there as much as possible.

Granted, I don’t think Tagovailoa’s presence is essential until training camp — no, I don’t even think it’s essential that he’s there during mandatory minicamp, OTAs or the offseason program — but his choice to change his routine during contract negotiations and at a time when his team’s expectations are so high raises a flag with me.

McDaniel said he doesn’t discuss contract issues with Tagovailoa.

McDaniel made it sound as though he doesn’t have many non-football discussions with Tua.

“I think important in the player-coach relationship is communication,” McDaniel said, “and I think however things play out, as long as we’re communicating and we’re on our Ps and Qs on what we need to get accomplished, then we have a fighting chance and it’s been a good exercise in our relationship this offseason.”

In other words, McDaniel doesn’t want to get involved in the contract situation with Tagovailoa. He’ll leave that between Tua and general manager Chris Grier.

On that note, soon we’ll find out how much the Dolphins love Tagovailoa, and how much Tagovailoa loves the Dolphins.

It’s all about the money.

We know the Dolphins have said they love Tua, and Tua has said he loves the Dolphins.

Now, one of them must prove it.

Who takes the financial shave in Tua’s contract extension?

Will Tua have resentment if he doesn’t get an extension before the season opener?

Beyond that, what’s going on with Tua in the big picture?

We won’t know the latter until we hear from Tagovailoa himself, which likely won’t be until the Dolphins’ June 4-6 mandatory minicamp.

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