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Four Trade Destinations For Tua Tagovailoa

Liam McKeone
Tua Tagovailoa
Tua Tagovailoa / Alex Pantling/GettyImages
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The Miami Dolphins are reportedly nearing a trade for Deshaun Watson, which leaves 2020 No. 5 overall pick Tua Tagovailoa as the odd man out. Tua has taken a large portion of the blame for Miami's 1-5 start this year, which is fair to an extent. He missed three games after breaking his ribs and in the three games he did play, he has been underwhelming. In two and a half starts this season, Tagovailoa has mustered 544 yards and three touchdowns in the air, with two interceptions.

It's still far too early to consider the jury out on Tagovailoa, but he doesn't look anything like the quarterback who dominated college football for nearly three full seasons. It's especially bad when he's compared to Justin Herbert, the guy who got drafted after him and looks like a 10-year vet already. Fair or not, the Dolphins seem ready to move on from their former first-round pick. But Tua is not so far removed from college that people have forgotten just how damn good he was.

So, if the Dolphins really do land Watson, Tagovailoa will be on the market and there will be suitors. Assuming the Watson deal is done, the price for Tua would not be nearly as high as you'd think for a quarterback taken in the first round less than two years ago. The Dolphins would probably ask for a handful of mid-round picks to wipe the slate clean and start fresh with Watson (which comes with its own... complications, but we'll leave that for another day).

Where could Tua end up? Here are four possible options.

Houston Texans

One would think that if the Texans are finally trading their franchise quarterback, they would be interested in acquiring someone who could replace him. Tua didn't shine in his rookie season like Watson did, but Houston has nobody on the roster with the same talent Tua showed at Alabama. Davis Mills is fine and so is Tyrod Taylor. Neither have the ceiling Tagovailoa does. It seems simple and obvious to include him in any Watson trade.

But! The scuttlebutt over the offseason coming out of the Texans building was that they had no interest in Tua. That may have just been a negotiating tactic to ensure they get as much as they possibly can without making Tua the centerpiece, but it could also sink this possibility. Which leads us to...

Pittsburgh Steelers

Behind the Texans, the Steelers make the most sense. They have a good team surrounding Ben Roethlisberger, but Big Ben's play has taken a swan dive off the Cliffs of Moher. Pittsburgh doesn't have a succession plan, either, which Ryan Clark recently called a "total organizational failure."

Should Tua hit the open market, the Steelers need to sprint to the phone. It is not often a quarterback with a first-round pedigree becomes available for as cheap as Tua will be. Pittsburgh has invested exactly nothing in the QB position over the last three years. Tua doesn't need to play right now, since apparently the Steelers have convinced themselves Roethlisberger has enough in the tank to compete. But they have all their draft picks and can always take another swing if Tagovailoa doesn't work out. It's a no-brainer.

Detroit Lions

The Lions took back Jared Goff as a reclamation project of sorts when they traded Matthew Stafford to the Rams. So far, Goff looks beyond repair. He has undeniably been one of the worst starting QBs in the league to this point. Which is fine for Detroit, because the franchise isn't looking to win this year or even next year. It does mean Goff is not the answer.

Enter Tua, who also might not be the answer but has more untapped potential than Goff. He fits the timeline of the team perfectly and will have all the wiggle room to make mistakes while developing in Detroit's long-term plan. And like the Steelers, if he doesn't work out, the Lions have multiple first-round picks to correct the mistake in the draft.

Denver Broncos

The Broncos started this year undefeated then lost three straight games and are once again rudderless. It's been this way since Peyton Manning retired. All their swings at quarterback have crashed and burned. Teddy Bridgewater has been a blast to open the year but we have a pretty good idea of where his ceiling is at this point in his career, and it is not high.

Like Pittsburgh, the Broncos could ride their current crop of quarterbacks this year while trying to see what Tua has behind the scenes. He may not be much better than Drew Lock right now, but he could get there. He's the best option Denver has to improve the QB room without sacrificing a significant asset.

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