INDIANAPOLIS — If there’s one question Dolphins general manager Chris Grier might like to try answering again, it would be whether starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa can be an elite quarterback.
“I can’t say he can’t be,” Grier said when asked precisely that during the NFL Scouting Combine this week.
Grier’s double negative was not a ringing endorsement of Tagovailoa, the No. 5 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, who turned 24 on Thursday. Tagovailoa is entering his third season in the NFL and his first under new coach Mike McDaniel, whose offense could further favor Tagovailoa’s talent.
Grier, McDaniel and the Dolphins are excited about Tagovailoa, especially his accuracy. And they’re moving forward with him as a franchise quarterback.
They have to somehow.
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The Dolphins have been trying their best to whaling recently, but to no avail.
They stopped wanting Deshaun Watson, Tom Brady and Sean Payton in Miami.
The Dolphins were in charge to trade Watson, the beleaguered Houston Texans quarterback, for much of 2021. They didn’t trade for him at the November deadline because Watson failed to reach a settlement. in the 22 civil cases filed by women alleging sexual relations. misconduct.
And they might not consider a trade for Watson in the future.
“I think the door is closed on Deshaun,” Grier said.
Grier confirmed he had reached out to the Saints to see if he could speak to Payton and gauge his interest after stepping down as Saints head coach.
The Saints declined the Dolphins’ request, which came before the team hired McDaniel.
“I contacted New Orleans a few days after just to see,” Grier said. “Has he finished football or does he want to be a coach? I don’t know what’s going on there. And they just told us no, they weren’t going to give permission. So that was it .
“I don’t even know if he would be interested.”
Grier also said he had “no conversations” with Brady, though that may not have stopped Dolphins owner Steve Ross from reaching out.
ProFootballTalk reported earlier this week that the Dolphins are hoping to partner Payton with Brady if the two plan to continue their careers.
Brady announced his retirement and Tampa Bay still holds his contractual rights should he decide to play again. The Buccaneers made it clear earlier this week that they would not facilitate a trade for Brady to play elsewhere.
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This offseason wasn’t the only time the Dolphins had an interest in Brady.
Brady was the unnamed “prominent quarterback” in former Dolphins coach Brian Flores’ lawsuit against the NFL and four teams, a person with direct knowledge of the situation told USA Today Sports+ last month. The person spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
Flores alleges Ross wanted him to woo Brady after the 2019 season and before the 2020 draft.
Grier was also asked about the Flores lawsuit, which said Ross offered Flores $100,000 per loss in the 2019 season to improve Miami’s 2020 draft position.
Grier declined to comment.
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Now the Dolphins are moving forward with Tagovailoa and McDaniel — who together are tasked with propelling the Dolphins to the playoffs for the fourth time in 20 years.
Grier hopes McDaniel, the former 49ers offensive coordinator, will find success as a head coach like other young NFL coaches, such as the 49ers’ Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay with the Rams, whom McDaniel considers friends and former colleagues.
To do this, McDaniel’s offense will have to respond to Tagovailoa’s forces. The Dolphins also need to find offensive playmakers and linemen to bolster the offense.
“Ultimately, Mike and the staff came in to do a lot of work and study Tua a lot,” Grier said. the offence.
“I think we are good with Tua.”
While Grier’s initial comment on Tagovailoa may have been tempered, McDaniel’s thoughts on his new quarterback were far more encouraging.
Tagovailoa has played in 22 of 27 games since his debut midway through the 2020 season. He is 13-8 as a starter and his 67.8% completion rate last season was sixth among starters in the NFL.
“I’m really excited to move forward because the guy has skills that I think are untapped,” McDaniel said Thursday on NFL Network. “It is important to empower the quarterback with the rest of the players around him in the scheme that you are proposing.
“I think his best days are ahead of him.”