Miami Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa on trade rumors: They can eat you out of the NFL

Perhaps what’s most certain about the NFL quarterback market this offseason is the surplus of uncertainty.

Philip Rivers has already retired. New Orleans’ Drew Brees is expected to follow. Free-agent signal callers include Dak Prescott, Mitchell Trubisky and Cam Newton, and that’s before the league begins entertaining trade offers akin to the Lions and Rams weekend swap of Matthew Stafford for Jared Goff. The Steelers have publicly said they want Ben Roethlisberger to take a pay cut, while Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson has not shied away from announcing his discontent with Houston.

It’s enough to make anyone’s head spin. Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa sees the danger.

Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (Photo: Rich Barnes, USA TODAY Sports)

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“If you dwell on those things too long, they can eat you up,” Tagovailoa told USA TODAY Sports on Monday in conjunction with Verizon’s 5G Super Bowl campaign. “Then eventually you eat yourself out of the league.”

The Dolphins took Tagovailoa in the first round, fifth overall, of the 2020 NFL Draft. He split snaps in 2020 with veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tagovailoa starting nine games while completing 64.1% of passes for 1,814 yards, 11 touchdowns and five interceptions. An upstart Dolphin team under Brian Flores won six of Tagovailoa’s starts.

Even so, the Dolphins are considered one of the most likely landing spots should Watson win his way out of Houston. Tagovailoa said he ignores the speculation.

“The biggest word that stands out to me is ‘control,’” Tagovailoa said. “You can’t control those situations but what you can do is control … your work ethic. It’s getting with veterans, getting in the film room, asking veteran questions in ways that can help you better your game.

“I try to circle myself with people who are very encouraging, very uplifting. So a lot of these things, as far as trades and what not, I don’t hear them until my agent tells me about them.”

Tagovailoa said he values the mentorship Fitzpatrick gave him throughout the season, and that there is “no bad blood” between the two despite their competition for the starting job. He’ll take the lessons Fitzpatrick taught him into this offseason as he grows his game. Even the moments Tagovailoa erred – in fact, especially those moments, he says – he considers Fitzpatrick’s sideline recommendation or the actions the veteran took against defenses that challenged the rookie and applies them.

“It was very, very helpful,” said Tagovailoa, who will compete against NFL stars including Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray and Giants running back Saquon Barkley in Verizon’s 5G Fortnite challenge on Tuesday and Friday. “Although it wasn’t something I would’ve liked especially getting pulled but just having that relationship with him (to) take those things as a learning process.

“It’s going to be a continuous learning process for me going into this offseason and hopefully next season.”

Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein.

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