Ever since Deshaun Watson initially submitted his trade request to the Houston Texans, the Miami Dolphins have been viewed as an ideal destination for the NFL’s reigning passing champion.
Obviously, an off-field scandal has clouded Watson’s future, but as that serious situation hangs in the balance, Miami is reportedly not dismissing the possibility of eventually pulling off a blockbuster deal.
Pro Football Network’s Adam H. Beasley reported the latest on the Dolphins’ rumored interest in Watson:
“We’re told the Dolphins have enough lingering questions about Tua’s ability and future that they would still consider trading for Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson if his legal situation is somehow resolved in time for the 2021 season. That, of course, is an enormous if. […] But that has not stopped the Dolphins from keeping an open mind, according to multiple sources briefed on the organization’s thinking.”
The key point to underscore, separate from the complexities the team would have to navigate in a Watson trade scenario, is Miami’s wavering faith on sophomore QB Tua Tagovailoa.
Trading for a legitimate top-five-caliber quarterback, whatever the price winds up being, is usually worth it. It’s a little more complicated when it comes to Watson.
Deshaun Watson could be franchise savior or culture killer for Miami Dolphins
Although head coach Brian Flores has been publicly supportive of Tagovailoa, it’s hard to argue that even the former Alabama star’s ceiling as an NFL signal-caller is bound to fall short of the exceptional standard Watson has established on the field.
This boils down to whether the Dolphins will ultimately feel good enough about how Watson’s myriad of lawsuits plays out, and whether the risk of a potentially toxic trade is worth the upgrade in on-field performance Watson would presumably provide.
Prior to the allegations of sexual misconduct, Watson was viewed as a model citizen, a great leader with excellent intangibles, and seemingly, just the type of player Flores covets.
Not since Dan Marino have the Dolphins had a legitimate star at the most important position on the field. Because Tagovailoa failed to impress as part of a 2020 draft class that also featured Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert, it’s easy to understand why Miami and its fans might have little patience for the second-year player to develop.
Giving up on Tua Tagovailoa too soon could doom Miami Dolphins
It’s also worth considering that Tagovailoa is still so early in his career, and even amid typical rookie struggles, he still managed a 6-3 starting record with Ryan Fitzpatrick constantly nipping at his heels for playing time.
In his two full seasons as a starter at Alabama, Tagovailoa averaged over 11 yards per attempt and threw 76 touchdowns to only nine interceptions. He wasn’t just dinking and dunking either, as you can tell from his air yards per attempt of 12.8 in 2018 and 13.4 in 2019.
The Dolphins just drafted Tagovailoa’s former teammate, Jaylen Waddle, sixth overall and acquired another speedy receiver in former Texan Will Fuller. They have the top-end speed to capitalize on Tagovailoa’s ability to let it rip downfield, which he should be able to do much better now that he’s way further along in his recovery from hip surgery.
Everything is falling into place for Tagovailoa to thrive. Taking such a big swing on such an uncertain, potentially toxic commodity in Watson not only derails Tagovailoa’s development, but also creates an opening for him to thrive elsewhere and could unravel an otherwise-promising rebuild in Miami.