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Tua Tagovailoa’s injury history won’t necessarily prevent the Miami Dolphins from giving him a long-term contract extension.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, general manager Chris Grier said he can’t say there are no concerns about Tagovailoa’s durability, but “it’s not something that’s going to make us afraid” to sign him.
Grier’s comments come after head coach Mike McDaniel told reporters on Tuesday the team hasn’t made a decision about Tagovailoa’s fifth-year option in his rookie deal.
“Like any other player, you factor in every variable,” McDaniel said. “I think it’s important to recognize we have a congruence of interests by the Dolphins and the player, Tua, that we both want him to play at a very high level for a long time for the Miami Dolphins.”
Tagovailoa has missed time in each of the past two seasons because of injuries. He fractured multiple ribs in a Week 2 loss to the Buffalo Bills during the 2021 campaign that kept him out for three games.
The Alabama alum suffered two confirmed concussions during the 2022 season. There was a controversial moment during Miami’s Week 3 win over the Bills when he appeared to be experiencing concussion symptoms following a hit by Matt Milano that caused him to fall to a knee on the field.
Tagovailoa, who returned to the field for the second half, said after the game the lack of muscle control was due to back spasms from when he hit the turf.
A joint investigation into the situation by the NFL and NFL Players Association determined Tagovailoa did not exhibit concussion symptoms, but the “outcome in this case is not what was intended when the Protocols were drafted.”
Tagovailoa suffered his first diagnosed concussion the following week against the Cincinnati Bengals. He suffered a second concussion during the Dolphins’ Week 16 loss to the Green Bay Packers, but it wasn’t known until after the game when the coaching staff reviewed the tape.
The 24-year-old missed the final three games of the season, including Miami’s 34-31 loss to the Bills in the AFC Wild Card round, due to concussion protocol. He cleared protocol on Feb. 1 and is expected to be fully healthy for the start of the 2023 season.
The Dolphins have until May 1 to decide if they want to pick up Tagovailoa’s fifth-year option that will keep him under contract through the 2024 season. He would be guaranteed $23.2 million if the option is exercised.
Tagovailoa did have the best season of his career in 2022 when he played. He finished with 3,548 yards, 25 touchdowns and completed 64.8 percent of his attempts in 13 starts.
Miami was 8-5 in games Tagovailoa started and made the playoffs for the first time since 2016.