Miami's 2022 season came to an end on Sunday after falling to the second-seeded Buffalo Bills during Super Wild Card Weekend.
Mike McDaniel's first campaign as Dolphins head coach was an overall success for a club that ended a six-year playoff drought. Among the highlights of McDaniel's arrival was the seamless transition to his lively offensive system and the breakout season of third-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
The Dolphins brass on Monday expressed its desire to go forward with Tagovailoa in 2023 and beyond.
"I would say with Tua he is our starting quarterback," Dolphins general manager Chris Grier told reporters Monday. "I mean, I don't know how we can say it anymore clearly. We've been that way through this season and what he's done. What Mike and Tua, (Darrell) Bevell, Chandler (Henley), the coaching staff have all done. They've all worked tremendously hard all of them together."
The Dolphins will have a decision to make in the coming months on Tagovailoa's immediate future with the club. Entering the 2023 offseason, Miami will need to decide whether or not it picks up the fifth-year option on Tagovailoa's rookie contract. Grier said not only is the fifth-year option in play for Tua, but so is a long-term deal.
"Everything is on the table for us," Grier said.
Tagovailoa's career-best season totaled 3,548 passing yards, 25 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 13 games played. The former No. 5 overall pick unlocked the full potential of Miami's dynamic receiving corps in McDaniel's system as Tyreek Hilland Jaylen Waddle combined for the third-most receiving yards (3,066) by a teammate duo in league history, per NFL Research. The Dolphins finished 2022 with the fourth-best passing offense with an average of 265.4 passing yards per game.
Those impressive offensive numbers could've been even better had Tagovailoa been healthy all season, not to mention the end result of Miami's short-lived postseason run perhaps could've been lengthened.
Suffering two concussions in a span of nearly two months in 2022, Tagovailoa was absent for a total of five games, including Sunday's wild-card loss.
Grier expects Tagovailoa to be ready for 2023 after consulting medical professionals this offseason.
"We anticipate him talking with the doctors and consultants and everyone we've dealt with," Grier said. "We fully expect him back next year. One-hundred percent ready to go and then we'll get through all those decisions, you know, like you said, just like we talked about, every player on the roster and obviously understand because there's Tua and that's why the question is being asked. We'll go through our process, but he is our starting quarterback and will be next season."
Grier added that through conversations with doctors and consultants with the NFL Players Association, the team is confident Tagovailoa isn't more susceptible to concussions than anyone else and that it won't be a recurring injury. The Dolphins will still go forward prioritizing Tagovailoa's health through the consultation of doctors.
"Absolutely, that's something that's driven by the doctors," said McDaniel on ensuring Tagovailoa's healthy to play. "Those are the things that, you know, they're the experts in those fields and when they tell us that he's ready to play and as we expect … they tell us he's ready to play coming into the spring or whatever then we'll press forward in that direction."
Other topics on the docket in Miami's season-ending presser on Monday:
- Grier said it was the Dolphins' priority to work with and keep defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, who will be playing in the fifth and final year of his rookie deal in 2023. The Dolphins GM raved about Wilkins' work ethic and impact on the defense.
- Mike Gesicki, who played under the franchise tag in 2022, seems to be heading to free agency this offseason. Gesicki had a down year this season, producing just 32 receptions for 362 yards and five TDs while appearing in all 17 games. Grier said Monday that Gesicki's "earned the right to be a free agent."
- Grier said it's too early to tell if cornerback Byron Jones (leg) will be ready for the 2023 season. After undergoing surgery last March, Jones never got healthy enough to play in 2022 as he dealt with related ailments to the procedure.
- McDaniel said he doesn't want to make any emotional quick decisions in regard to any changes to his coaching staff for 2023.