Tua Tagovailoa expected to be Dolphins’ starter next season; Mike Gesicki mulls future – The Denver Post


The Miami Dolphins are expected to have quarterback Tua Tagovailoa remain the team’s starter going forward into the 2023 season.

Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel confirmed as much following the Dolphins’ 34-31 season-ending loss in an AFC wild-card playoff game at the Buffalo Bills after the team’s commitment to Tagovailoa was first reported by ESPN on Sunday morning.

“Of course. You guys know how I feel about Tua. That hasn’t changed at all,” McDaniel said of Tagovailoa Sunday night at Highmark Stadium. “I think we all see him as a leader on this team. When it’s appropriate for him to lead the team, we’ll jump on that opportunity.”

The development clears up two things: That medical professionals believe Tagovailoa, who was diagnosed with two concussions this season, can continue his playing career despite the head trauma and that the Dolphins will not pursue another starting-caliber quarterback this offseason to either replace Tagovailoa or compete with him.

Tagovailoa missed the Dolphins’ first postseason game in six years as he was still in the concussion protocol after also being kept out of the final two games of the regular season. He missed five games total, including playoffs, due to concussion this season and is yet to complete an entire season healthy in three NFL campaigns since being selected with the No. 5 pick in the 2020 draft.

“Yes, this is a challenging time for him. Yes, his health is of primary importance,” McDaniel said, “but I’d be a fool to not embrace him when he’s healthy and ready to go. We’ll all be excited for that.”

Tagovailoa, in 13 games this season, led the NFL in passer rating at 105.5. He also was the league leader in yards per attempt at 8.9. He went 8-5 with a 64.8 completion percentage, 3,548 yards, 25 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

“He’s a great player with only improvement in front of him,” McDaniel said. “We’re talking about a 24-year-old quarterback that — I think when I signed up for this job — I spent six months trying to convince people he was good.”

Tagovailoa enters the final year of his rookie contract. In 2023, Tagovailoa will earn a base salary of $1,010,000 and a roster bonus of $3,728,469, while carrying a cap hit of $9,633,094. The Dolphins will have an important offseason decision on whether to sign his fifth-year option.

Dolphins general manager Chris Grier is expected to address where he stands on Tagovailoa in his end-of-season press conference Monday.

Gesicki mulls offseason

Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki will have a pivotal offseason for his future after playing the 2022 season on the franchise tag for Miami.

“We’ll see,” Gesicki said. “I’m not really sure at this point. I love it in Miami, man. I’ve been there for five years, and I’ve made a ton of memories.

“Got here when I was 22 years old. Now, I’m sitting here at 27, and I’ve played a lot of football. … It’s a long offseason. There’s a lot of things that factor.”

What’s most important to Gesicki in making that decision?

“Just opportunity,” he said. “Scheme, quarterback play, location — there’s a ton of stuff. We’ll see when we get there, but ultimately, I think I can fit in any scheme and play in any scheme. That’s not really my biggest concern.”

In Sunday’s loss, Gesicki had a 7-yard touchdown that tied the game in the first half. He finished the 2022 regular season with 32 receptions and 372 yards — both career lows since his rookie year — but he did have five regular-season touchdowns before Sunday’s postseason score. It was Gesicki’s first season under McDaniel and the new coach’s offensive system.

Armstead plays through injuries

Dolphins left tackle Terron Armstead played through his four injuries — toe, pectoral, knee and him — in the playoff game against the Bills.

Armstead, who earned his fourth Pro Bowl selection this season, entered Sunday questionable as he dealt with the long list of ailments.

“This is what I do. It’s what I signed up for,” Armstead said. “I try to go out and play this game. I am hurt, honestly speaking, pretty bad right now. But if we were to play next week I would put some duct tape on it, some Band-Aids, and try to do it again.”

Armstead went into the locker room late in the first half with the team announcing his hip was the issue, but the tackle returned for the second half.

While Armstead’s availability was a welcome sight, Miami went into the wild-card matchup with other offensive line concerns. Tackles Brandon Shell (knee/ankle) and Kendall Lamm (ankle) were announced as inactive 90 minutes before the 1 p.m. kickoff. That after starting left guard Liam Eichenberg was downgraded from doubtful to out Saturday as he didn’t travel with the team. Shell has been the Dolphins’ starting right ankle with Austin Jackson on injured reserve.

The Dolphins started right guard Robert Hunt at right tackle with Robert Jones taking Hunt’s usual guard spot. In Eichenberg’s left guard spot, where Jones would back him up, was Lester Cotton, who was elevated from the Miami practice squad Saturday.

Outside linebacker Bradley Chubb, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, fullback Alec Ingold and wide receiver Cedrick Wilson Jr. — who were all questionable — were active. Bridgewater didn’t play rookie Skylar Thompson made it through the game healthy. Chubb had a sack and a forced fumble as his snap count was monitored. Wilson had a key 50-yard punt return that set up a first-half field goal.

Other Dolphins inactives included Tagovailoa and running back Raheem Mostert, who were both deemed out earlier this past week. Healthy scratches were cornerback Noah Igbinoghene and tight end Tanner Conner.

Both Bills players that entered questionable — wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie and defensive tackle Jordan Phillips — are among their inactives. Each has South Florida ties with Phillips a former Dolphin and McKenzie a high school product of American Heritage in Plantation.



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