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Tua ‘antsy’ over contract negotiations with Dolphins but confident deal gets done

MIAMI GARDENS — Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was looking for the right word Tuesday to describe how he feels about his offseason contract extension negotiations with the team.

Is he frustrated that he has not yet locked in an extension within three months of the final season of his rookie deal?

“Uh, not frustrated,” Tagovailoa responded after wrapping up his work on the first day of the Dolphins’ three-day mandatory minicamp. “I’m another word.”

Another reporter asks: Agitated? Annoyed?

Tagovailoa has a lengthy pause before merely letting off a smile.

“Just wanting to get something done,” he said. “That’s it.”

But the media contingent wasn’t letting him get away without finding the word.

Concerned?

“Concerned is not the right word. That’s way off from the word,” Tagovailoa said.

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Antsy maybe?

“Probably antsy, in a way.”

Pissed off?

“I wouldn’t say pissed off. I mean, this is the nature of the beast. This is how it goes.”

Whatever the word, yes, the Dolphins quarterback who led the league in passing yards in 2023 and made it through his first full NFL season healthy last year is paying attention to what other quarterbacks are getting across the league.

Most recently, the Detroit Lions locked Jared Goff in for $53 million average annual value, making him one of six NFL quarterbacks to break the $50 million per-year threshold. Tagovailoa may also be eyeing Justin Herbert’s $52.5 million average secured in a deal last summer. Remember, Herbert was taken a pick behind Tagovailoa in their draft, and the league’s salary cap has increased significantly since last year.

“The market is the market,” Tagovailoa said. “If we didn’t have a market, then none of those things would matter. It would just be an organizational thing. Didn’t matter if that guy got paid that, because it’s up to the organization.”

The Dolphins top draft selection in 2020, picked No. 5, is ultimately optimistic the two sides will agree to terms.

“I’m confident that a deal will get done, but then again, it’s not in my control,” he said. “It’s up to both sides meeting in the middle with this.”

“We just are trying to move that thing in the right direction where we can both be happy. … “I think there’s been a lot of progress to this point. From where we started, there’s been a lot of progress to now.

“You can ask the other question then: ‘Why aren’t we seeing an agreement?’ Well, that’s the tough part about it. That’s why it’s business. That’s why you got one side and the other trying to work to meet in the middle.”

Tagovailoa is pleased that, once he does finalize the terms to his deal, he will be paired with wide receiver Jaylen Waddle for a long time. Waddle had a three-year extension added to the next two years he was already under contract for, keeping him with the Dolphins through 2028.

“I was excited,” Tagovailoa said, adding that Waddle received congratulations from various top teammates in a group text. “I’m happy for my boy.”

Waddle is in favor of having Tagovailoa be the one to send passes his way for the duration of that contract.

“Tua’s my guy,” Waddle said Tuesday. “I’ve been saying that for a long time. Without Tua, I don’t think I would’ve gotten the extension I got. Everybody’s rooting for him. He’s our guy. So let’s get it done.”

Said fellow star wide receiver Tyreek Hill, seeking a reworked deal of his own this offseason: “Tua should’ve been paid.”

As Tagovailoa aims to fatten his pockets, he has also slimmed down significantly this offseason.

The quarterback wouldn’t reveal how much weight he has lost, but he’s certainly far from the 227 pounds he was listed as weighing last season.

“I felt like I’d be better. I feel better, quicker on my feet, more nimble, all that,” he said.

Tagovailoa specified the ways his new weight can help him on the football field.

“Probably extending plays more this offseason than during the season, training camp,” he said.

Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel already detailed last week at organized team activities that Tagovailoa did not necessarily gain weight last offseason to better withstand hits from defenders but, rather, merely worked to gain strength and both sides agreed he can could stand to lose unnecessary weight ahead of the 2024 season.

As far as on-field work, Tagovailoa has been in and out of voluntary offseason workouts with the team to work some with personal quarterback coach John Beck.

“Using my hips, getting my hips more involved with my throwing,” Tagovailoa said, detailing that he learned something called the rubber-band theory from those drills.

“It’s seamless when you throw, so your hip goes before your upper body, and it’s sort of like, when you release it, it just snaps. So, it’s just a flick of the wrist, but the ball takes off for you.”

At Tuesday’s minicamp session, Tagovailoa wasn’t involved in 11-on-11 drills but took a majority of the 7-on-7 action. He was efficient, with no pass of his hitting the ground other than a pair of drops by their intended targets. That said, many of the completions were easy throws, taking what the defense gave him.

Tagovailoa did make some tougher throws, hitting rookie tight end Hayden Rucci deep down a seam, River Cracraft for a juggling one-handed catch in the end zone, De’Von Achane for a touchdown on a wheel route and tight end Tanner Conner on a quick strike short over the middle for another touchdown in red-zone drills.