Report: Tua Tagovailoa expected back as Miami Dolphins starter next season, could even return later this postseason

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Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is expected to be back as the team’s starter in the 2023 season, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

This report puts to bed some of the speculation that the Dolphins will pursue a veteran quarterback like Tom Brady in free agency this coming offseason.

“Tua Tagovailoa is expected to return as the Miami Dolphins’ starting quarterback for the 2023 season, league sources told ESPN,” Schefter wrote.

Tagovailoa is out of Miami’s playoff game against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday due to a concussion. He has suffered two confirmed concussions in the 2022 season, and the situation has caused some concern for his long-term health.

The first concussion came against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 4, but Tagovailoa was able to return a few weeks later.

Then, he was injured on Christmas Day in Week 16 against the Green Bay Packers and has not cleared concussion protocol yet.

That put the Dolphins in a tough spot down the stretch in the regular season, as they relied on Teddy Bridgewater and Skylar Thompson to get them into the postseason. Thompson, a rookie, is expected to get the start against Buffalo on Sunday.

Even if Miami doesn’t upset the Bills, the team is still pleased with what Tagovailoa did this season when he was in the lineup. If the Dolphins do pull off a win on Sunday, it sounds like the 24-year-old could potentially return in these playoffs.

“Should the seventh-seeded Dolphins upset the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, Tagovailoa could potentially be cleared from the concussion protocol and work his way back to the field this postseason,” wrote Schefter.

“But regardless of what happens in Sunday’s wild-card game in Buffalo or throughout Miami’s postseason, the Dolphins have been pleased with Tagovailoa’s development this season under first-year coach Mike McDaniel, according to sources.

“Medical professionals also are confident that Tagovailoa should be able to resume his NFL career next season, if not sooner, sources said.”

The No. 5 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Tagovailoa had by far his best regular season as a pro in the 2022 campaign.

He threw for 3,548 yards, 25 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 13 games during the regular season, leading the NFL in yards gained per pass attempt and yards gained per pass completion.

The addition of Tyreek Hill certainly helped Tagovailoa take the next step, and the Dolphins seem to believe that he can be the franchise quarterback after three seasons with the team.

The concern for Miami may not be Tagovailoa’s play, but whether or not he can avoid another head injury.

The Dolphins wouldn’t want to risk any player having permanent head trauma, and Tagovailoa certainly has dealt with an abnormal number of head injuries in a short amount of time.

Miami hasn’t rushed him back since his concussion in Week 16, which is the right move.

As long as he does stay healthy, Tagovailoa looks to have a bright future in Miami after the performance he had in the 2022 regular season.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.