July 21, 2024

Tua Tagovailoa, the Miami Dolphins quarterback, overcame doubts about his long-term durability with a career-best season in 2023. However, with the Dolphins ousted from the NFL playoffs in part due to Tagovailoa’s troubles, there is continued discussion about replacing him.

Miami’s alternatives would be rather restricted. It lacks the resources to trade up for a top pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, and there is no indication that an All-Pro quarterback will demand a trade this offseason. However, a few opportunities exist via free agency and in risk-reward transactions.

Tagovailoa has performed well in the regular season over the last two years and has emerged as a leader in the Dolphins locker room. Of all, the goal is to win the Super Bowl, and the quarterback’s limitations may push the front management to examine other options.
Here are three quarterbacks who might replace Tagovailoa as Miami’s starting in 2024.

Tua Tagovailoa Replacements for the Miami Dolphins

Kirk Cousins, free agent.

 

Vikings QB Kirk Cousins placed on reserve/COVID-19 list, out Sunday vs.  Packers
Kirk Cousins

 

 

 

Given Miami’s other issues, the best option for replacing Tagovailoa would be to sign Kirk Cousins in free agency. While he bears extra risk coming off a ruptured Achilles, he would not require any draft capital to acquire. The Dolphins may instead sign him and trade Tagovailoa.

Some may claim that Cousins’ playoff numbers (93.7 QB rating, 1-3 record) preclude him as a replacement. However, improving over Tagovailoa is solely about finding a quarterback who will not limit this offense’s potential. He’s fantastic while functioning within the fundamental structure of Mike McDaniel’s play call, but when Tagovailoa is forced to improvise on his own, chaos ensues.

Cousins is as accurate a passer as Tagovailoa, but with stronger decision-making and the ability to consistently deliver on-target throws to the outside. Simply incorporating that more frequently into Miami’s passing game might make a difference against top defenses.

With the Seattle Seahawks moving on from Pete Carroll, Geno Smith could become available. The 33-year-old quarterback does not necessarily fit into the team’s young core, and Seattle could save $22.5 million in contract space by trading Smith after June 1.

Related: NFL quarterback ranking.

PFF grade Adj. Completion TD-INT QB Rating
T. Tagovailoa vs pressure 51.8 55% 2-3 52.8
T. Tagovailoa on play action 92.7 81.4% 8-2 109.1
G. Smith vs pressure 60..5 69.8% 8-3 73.6
G. Smith on play acton

 

Miami would benefit from Smith’s deal not serving as a long-term anchor. He has a reasonable $31.2 million cap hit in 2024. If he underperforms or Miami wants to look at other options a year from now, Smith can be removed in 2025 for a $25 million cap reduction. Another thing to keep in mind is that Smith performed better under pressure in 2022 than he did this season. Plus, he’d be able to return to Florida.

 

Geno Smith returns, authors game-winning drive for Seahawks - ESPN

Geno Smith

 

Justin Fields, Chicago Bears

 

Raiders poll results: Fans want to pass on Justin Fields trade - Silver And  Black Pride
Justin Fields

 

The Miami Dolphins’ final quarterback option is the most unorthodox. McDaniel would be forced to modify his offense if he replaced Tagovailoa with Justin Fields. Because of his rapid passing style, Tagovailoa has the fastest average time to throw in the NFL (2.34 seconds). Fields (3.40 seconds) introduces a stylistic adjustment.

While this may appear to be a terrible thing on the surface, Miami’s system may require changes. In the first ten games of the season, the Dolphins averaged 291 passing yards and 143 running yards per week. Defenses adjusted, and Miami’s offense averaged 229.1 passing yards and 125.4 rushing yards per game in the remaining seven games. Opponents know what to expect with Tagovailoa at center.

Fields would give Miami’s offense a fresh start, becoming a more run-heavy club that featured designed quarterback runs, RPOs and the play-action. Making this approach more difficult and requiring defenses to account for more variables may be a better long-term strategy than what the Dolphins are currently doing.

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