Not long ago, we pointed out that signing with the Dolphins is “definitely on the table” for soon-to-be free agent Tom Brady. The feeling may not be mutual.
More accurately, it’s not “expected” to be mutual.
Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports that the Dolphins “are not expected” to pursue Brady, in the event he decides to play in 2023. Schefter adds, citing unnamed sources, that the Dolphins are “committed” to Tua Tagovailoa.
It’s unclear why Schefter had to roll with unnamed sources for the proposition that the Dolphins are committed to Tua. The coach and the General Manager have said so publicly. (Also, Schefter reported two weeks ago that Tua is “expected” to be the starter in 2023. Like Siena once said to Costanza, “I heard you the first time.”)
As we said in response to the pro-Tua comments from the team, actions speak louder than words. If they’re truly committed, pick up his fifth-year option. Or sign him to a long-term deal. Until one of those things happen, the commitment isn’t worth the paper it’s not printed on.
Five weeks after suffering his latest concussion, Tua still isn’t cleared to play flag football, frolf, or whatever else the NFL plans to do this week in Las Vegas in lieu of two-hand touch in full pads. That seems to be the most important news regarding Tua. How can they be truly committed to him until they know when/if he’ll be cleared to practice and play?
And while G.M. Chris Grier has pushed the idea that Tua is no more susceptible than anyone else to getting another concussion, the issue isn’t whether he’ll get another concussion. It’s whether his next concussion will be the one that keeps him from ever getting cleared again. Also, given his lack of size (relative to other quarterbacks), the question is whether he can protect himself against being thrown to the ground and having his helmet strike the turf. That’s how he suffered each of his two (or three) concussions in 2022.
Schefter’s safe harbor — “not expected” — flows from the very real possibility that the Dolphins have decided to express a clear commitment to Tua until the moment they decide to rescind said commitment. Given the extent to which the potential arrival of Deshaun Watson left Tua discombobulated throughout the first half of 2021, the Dolphins don’t want him thinking they may be moving on from him, until they affirmatively decide to move on from him.
That’s how it sometimes goes in the NFL. A team says it definitely wants a player until it no longer does. And when that happens, the team rarely gets dragged for the messages it previously spread.
Especially when the message deliberately contains just enough wiggle room, as the current message does.
And it makes sense to leave wiggle room. What happens if Brady reaches out to the Dolphins and expresses interest in playing for the Dolphins? Will they say no? They lost a first-round pick last year for lining up Brady and coach Sean Payton when both were under contract with other teams.
That’s another reason for the Dolphins to put out the word that they’re not “expected” to pursue Brady. We all know that the pursuits happen before free agency begins. Brady is already trying to throw pre-emptive dirt on the inevitable tampering tracks. The last thing the Dolphins want or need is to give up another first-round pick for talking to Brady before they’re allowed to do so.
So, sure, they’re “not expected” to pursue Brady. If/when Brady pursues them, that may be a very different story.