Guaranteed Money a ‘Sticking Point’ in Tua Tagovailoa Contract Negotiations


  • Quarterbacks continually set new salary records when becoming free agents.
  • Tua Tagovailoa’s negotiation process hinges on guaranteed money due to injury history.
  • Both sides likely to compromise for a deal near top AAV.

Tua Tagovailoa represents the next domino to fall in the endless quarterback line. Even teammate Tyreek Hill lobbied for the Miami Dolphins to back up the Brinks truck.

​​​​​​​The most recent top-12 quarterback that becomes a free agent earns near or above “the highest-paid contract in history.” This summer,​​​​​​​ Jared Goff and Trevor Lawrence followed the inevitable precedent.

Of course, there are more ways to measure salaries than average annual value (AAV). Predictably, Tagovailoa’s guaranteed money is “what most believe is the sticking point” in negotiations. So here’s a breakdown of where we are and how it likely ends.​​​​​​​


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Tagovailoa Negotiation Process Full of Hangs-Ups

Miami and their QB likely to find middle ground before season

Tua Tagovailoa, Mike McDaniel
Credit: Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Quarterbacks will continue to set new contract “records” as long as the salary cap rises. That’s regardless of whether or not the most recent free agent is the best at his position. That’s how it works, not just at the play-caller but in most positions. If owners are raking in cash, the most important people involved should see similar raises.

That’s why the Dolphins likely don’t have a huge issue paying Tagovailoa very near or even above the Lawrence or Goff contracts by AAV. However, his concussion history rightly concerns them regarding the guaranteed money.

The Cleveland Browns have to kick themselves for giving​​​​​​​ Deshaun Watson an unprecedented, fully guaranteed contract from his injuries. Not only has he played terribly, but​​​​​​​ Joe Flacco took them to the playoffs! Imagine how great their roster could be if they weren’t locked into taking a $63 million cap hit for Watson this upcoming season.

The Dolphins want protection from Tagovailoa’s injuries, and he rightly wants the maximum number of guarantees for the same reason. He can also point out that his numbers are better than Goff’s and Lawrence’s by a wide margin. Whether he’s better is a whole other debate. The system and coach he plays for have inflated those numbers, but no one they’ve plugged in has run it half as well.

Ultimately, we’d expect some give on both sides. Tagovailoa probably won’t rank in the top four in guarantees (Watson,​​​​​​​ Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, Trevor Lawrence), but he’ll likely fall near the top of AAV. Negotiations haven’t been contentious thus far, meaning they’ll find a happy medium eventually. Both sides lack attractive alternatives.

Source: ProFootballRumors

All statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference unless stated otherwise and all contract information courtesy of Spotrac unless stated otherwise.


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