Dolphins' Brian Flores Backs Tua Tagovailoa amid Deshaun Watson Trade Rumors

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVOctober 22, 2021

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) looks on during an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021. The Jacksonville Jaguars defeated the Miami Dolphins 23-20. (AP Photo/Steve Luciano)
AP Photo/Steve Luciano

Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores talked up quarterback Tua Tagovailoa on Friday despite rumors that the Dolphins are interested in acquiring Deshaun Watson from the Houston Texans.

According to David Furones of the Sun Sentinel, Flores said: "I don't really get into rumors. Tua's our quarterback. We're happy with our quarterback."

Per Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald, Flores also expressed his belief that Tua is smart, tough, talented and accurate before adding: "I think he definitely has the opportunity to be a very good player."

John McClain of the Houston Chronicle reported Wednesday that talks between the Dolphins and Texans regarding a trade for Watson have "intensified" recently, leading to the belief that a trade could be finalized by the end of the week or by the Nov. 2 trade deadline.

Miami has been linked to Watson since the offseason, but he remained with Houston entering the 2021 season.

Watson has been a healthy scratch throughout the season thus far for multiple reasons, Along with his desire to be traded, Watson is facing 22 civil lawsuits and at least 10 criminal complaints—including two complaints from women who haven't filed lawsuits—related to allegations of sexual misconduct or sexual assault against female massage therapists.

The NFL has not yet taken any action, but Watson could face a lengthy suspension once the legal situation is concluded. However, he will not be deposed until February, meaning there is a possibility he could play for this season.

The possibility of jail time on top of the potential suspension makes trading for him a highly risky endeavor, however.

Miami is in dire straits after starting the season 1-5 amid high expectations to reach the playoffs.

The Dolphins selected Tagovailoa with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft, and after entering the season with veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick as the starter, Flores eventually turned to Tua.

He did some good things during his debut season, going 6-3 as a starter and completing 64.1 percent of his passes for 1,814 yards, 11 touchdowns and five interceptions, plus three rushing scores.

Miami went 10-6 overall and fell just one win short of the playoffs, which meant the next logical step was to reach the postseason.

The Dolphins are well off the pace in that regard, though, and Tua's play has undoubtedly contributed to the team's failures.

Tagovailoa missed three entire games and most of a fourth because of a rib injury, but he has largely struggled even when healthy, completing 64.1 percent of his attempts for 544 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions to go along with one rushing touchdown.

The panic button may have officially been pressed last week when the Dolphins fell 23-20 to the Jacksonville Jaguars on a last-second field goal in London.

That marked the Jags' first win of the season and dropped Miami to 1-5, which is tied for the worst record in the AFC.

The 26-year-old Watson is a proven commodity with three Pro Bowl nods and two playoff appearances in four NFL seasons. He is also coming off a highly productive 2020 campaign in which he completed 70.2 percent of his throws for a league-high 4,823 yards, as well as a career-high 33 touchdowns and career-low seven interceptions.

There is little doubt that Watson would be an upgrade over Tua, but the questions over his future availability are likely the biggest impediment to a deal getting done.