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Pat Leonard’s NFL Notes: You’d be foolish to think the Miami Dolphins aren’t looking to improve at quarterback


Tua Tagovailoa can’t be the starting quarterback for the Miami Dolphins in 2023.

Whether it’s ‘Tampering Tom’ Brady or Lamar Jackson, rule-breaking Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has to bet everything on a star quarterback to maximize one of the best receiving corps in the NFL led by Tyreek Hill. and Jaylen Waddle.

Especially if the Jets acquire Aaron Rodgers from the Packers, will the Dolphins really keep the injury-prone Tagovailoa as their starter, sign a veteran mid-level backup and just cross their fingers?

“You can’t count on Tua,” a league source said, citing the quarterback’s concussions among other durability issues.

The Dolphins picked up Tagovailoa’s fifth-year option for $23 million for 2024 on Friday. But sticking with him at QB won’t be enough, and it’s inconsistent with Ross’s recent rabid pursuit of an upgrade at the position.

That? Ross thinks it’s worth a $1.5 million fine and suspension from the league to manipulate Brady in 2019-20 while he was with the Patriots, and in 2021 while he was with the Buccaneers, but isn’t it worth a couple of draft picks to land Jackson?

Do you think Ross won’t try to bring Brady out of retirement after trying to sign him twice while playing on two different teams?

You shouldn’t need someone to tell you it’s raining if you’re already standing outside soaking wet.

Dolphins general manager Chris Grier and coach Mike McDaniel have been careful with their words to leave all their options open.

CBS insider Josina Anderson recently reported that the Dolphins will explore all options at QB, including the possibility of moving in a different direction than Tagovailoa.

They can still redeem it after choosing this fifth year option. In fact, that offers potential takers two years of control at a reasonable cost over a player who carries substantial risk.

Miami just cleared more than $55 million in salary cap space last week through player layoffs and restructurings as free agency looms as well.

One source said if Miami makes a QB move, he thinks they would get Brady, Jackson or 49ers free agent Jimmy Garoppolo.

Garoppolo would be a couple of steps below the others and comes with his own injury history. But his familiarity with McDaniel and his offense from their time together in San Francisco is a likely natural match. It would also be the cheapest route, so it’s probably the fallback option if Brady and Jackson don’t happen.

But just imagine how deadly McDaniel’s offense would look with Jackson under center and the running routes of Hill and Waddle.

“That would be one of the fastest offenses this league has ever seen,” another league source said. “What would the defenses do? How would they defend the box?

It’s no secret that Jackson would love to play in his home state if the Baltimore Ravens trade him. Brady didn’t retire once last year, and it wouldn’t surprise anyone in the league if he did it again.

Ross and the Dolphins already made the mistake of drafting Tagovailoa over Justin Herbert in 2020.

Then, while Tagovailoa played pretty well early last season, his concussions cast doubt on how long he’ll be able to play in the league. And the Dolphins have lost their last four starts, including a three-interception loss to Green Bay.

Miami went just 9-8 to finish second in the AFC East, well behind the Bills (13-3), before playing close to Buffalo under third-string quarterback Skylar Thompson in a 34-loss. 31 in the wild card playoffs on the road.

Tagovailoa said he is working to learn how to fall more safely, but soccer is violent. There is so much a player can control, often nothing at all, when he takes a hit.

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The Dolphins need to improve at QB. Especially if the Jets get Rodgers, they need to swing big to keep up with the Jets (Rodgers), Bills (Josh Allen) and Patriots (Bill Belichick).

And Miami’s recent history not only shows they might be looking for a new quarterback; shows that they will.

Has anyone stopped to think if Rodgers could handle the limelight in New York? It sure looks like the Jets have done it. This has been one of the most clandestine courtships of a star player that I can remember. I wonder if the Jets are trying to be careful what is leaked and said locally for fear of scaring the famous main target of him with rabbit ears.

The LA Rams have released 30-year-old running back Leonard Floyd. The Giants wanted Floyd in the 2016 NFL Draft and made a big push for him again in 2021, but couldn’t stop him from re-signing with the Rams. Something to have in mind.

Keep an eye out for Buccaneers free agent cornerback Jamel Dean, 26, when the NFL free agent trading window opens on Monday. The outside corner is the Giants’ biggest defensive need, where they are also looking for defensive tackles and inside linebackers. Dean is a strong outside corner with good size who is still young. He has seven interceptions, 41 passes defensed in a Super Bowl ring in NFL seasons. He would be an excellent option in Wink Martindale’s heavyweight scheme after playing for Todd Bowles.

Odell Beckham Jr. coached for 12-14 NFL teams in Arizona on Friday, and there are more interested teams that didn’t attend in person. It should be interesting to see if anyone intends to pay OBJ real money after seeing him run routes and showing that he’s healthy.

Is there a scenario where Rodgers is the Packers’ QB in 2023? “If things don’t go our way, yes, I would.” — Packers president Mark Murphy on WBAY-TV

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