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Dolphins Pro Bowler Tua Tagovailoa Wants To Be ‘A Dolphin For Life’

The 2024 season could be a critical one for Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

Unless he signs an extension this offseason, he will be in the last year of his contract. Following his four-year, $30.3 million rookie deal with the Dolphins, the team exercised his $23.17 million, fifth-year option last March.

But Tagovailoa is taking it in stride.

“I don’t think there’s any pressure,” he said. “The goal is to be a Dolphin for life.”

Staying in Miami actually would give him more time with his college coach, Nick Saban, who bought a Mercedes-Benz car dealership in Coral Gables, Fla., following his retirement as Alabama head coach.

Saban’s decision to hang it up caught many off guard, including Tagovailoa.

“It was shocking to me,” he said.

A couple days after hearing about Saban’s retirement, Tagovailoa spoke with his former college coach.

He hopes to hit the links at Miami-area golf courses with the legendary coach who also guided the Dolphins from 2005 to 2006 and will be spending more time in the region.

“He’s the GOAT in college,” Tagovailoa said. “And I wish him all the best.”

Saban’s coaching style contrasts to current Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel who’s more like a friend. Tagovailoa said McDaniel’s schematic and play-calling decisions are more collaborative and that he encourages open dialogue.

“Coach McDaniel is so, so different,” he said. “It’s almost as if you feel you could tell him anything.”

Tagovailoa spoke candidly while teaming up with USAA, the official NFL Salute to Service partner, and Marine Corps Association (MCA) with tickets to the Super Bowl and the chance to hang out with the Dolphins quarterback.

“I’m very grateful for this opportunity,” Tagovailoa said. “This is the least that I can do in helping in any way to give back.”

Jones served in the Marines from 1995 to 2007. During one of his deployments, the sergeant was severely injured when his vehicle ran over an anti‐tank mine in 2005. As a result of that incident, the Purple Heart recipient lost both legs below the knees.

Because almost all of Tagovailoa’s maternal uncles served in various arms of the military and his first cousin, Adam, is in the Navy, he said it gave him even more appreciation for Jones’ sacrifices.

In the crowd of the Salute to Service lounge at the Mandalay Bay, there were several veterans and Dolphins fans, including those in Larry Csonka No. 39 and Dan Marino No. 13 jerseys.

During the 2023 campaign, Tagovailoa had the best year for a Dolphins quarterback since Marino. He set career highs in completion percentage (69.3), passing yards (4,624) and touchdown passes (29) while leading the Dolphins to an 11-6 record.

Those numbers would seem to make him deserving of a lucrative extension.

“Both Tua’s representation and our organization is hard at work,” McDaniel said Tuesday at the NFL Combine.

Though McDaniel said he was “encouraged” about the chances of getting a long-term deal done, one would think that questions regarding Tagovailoa’s durability could factor in.

Tagovailoa suffered a season-ending hip injury at Alabama and then multiple concussions in 2022, including one that ended his season on Christmas Day.

“There’s some heavy dudes out there,” he said. “The biggest goal was to finish the (2023) season and play 17-plus games, and I was able to do achieve that.”

Tagovailoa accomplished one personal goal. His next objective is to re-sign with the team that drafted him fifth overall in 2020 NFL Draft.

“We’ll see this offseason,” he said, “what that looks like for us.”