Was This Prestigious Hall Of Famer The “X-Factor Tua Advocate” During Watson Trade Rumors?

July 24, 2022

Despite rumors of Tua Tagovailoa being replaced by Deshaun Watson, there was a possible x-factor that kept that from happening. The question remains if Miami Dolphins special advisor Dan Marino was that x-factor.

After former Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson tweeted a tweet that insinuated that he was unhappy with the Texans front office on January 6, 2021, rumors began to circulate. That tweet was “some things never change” on what appears to be a now-deleted Twitter account. The tweet was about the Texans hiring Nick Caserio as their new general manager and not interviewing Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy for any position on the Texans. By the next day, rumors began to circulate about Deshaun Watson’s unhappiness with the Texans and the possibility of being traded to the Miami Dolphins.

Hall Of Famer May Have Been An X-Factor For Tua Tagovailoa

That rumor gained traction as the week continued. The rumor got to the point that Dolphins fifth overall NFL 2020 draft pick Tua Tagovailoa would be included in that trade. But that was never going to happen. Somewhere there was an x-factor within the Dolphins organization that was keeping Tagovailoa from being traded away from the Miami Dolphins. And that x-factor very well may have been former Dolphins quarterback and NFL Hall of Famer Dan Marino.

Marino has been an executive with the Dolphins since 2014 with the title of special advisor. On the Miami Dolphins official website, he is listed as Special Advisor to the Vice Chairman, President, and CEO. He is the best quarterback the Dolphins ever had. He has a boulevard named after him and a statue of himself outside of Hard Rock Stadium. Needless to say, he has a lot of power when it comes to the Miami Dolphins organization. And when he has something to say, people listen, even if it’s about Tagovailoa.

There were a series of events from the time before Tagovailoa was drafted until the present day. Those events are corroborative to Marino possibly being an x-factor in keeping Tagovailoa on the Dolphins. And those things make more sense than it doesn’t. Marino has said in interviews that he doesn’t want to discuss all of the things he does as a special advisor for the Dolphins. But his bio states he, “works in a variety of different capacities throughout all facets of the organization.”

It is public knowledge that he sits in quarterback meetings and has scouted at the Senior Bowl. It would also be an obvious opinion that he has given his opinion to management and possibly coaching staffs about college quarterbacks entering the draft. And even though it’s speculative, it may be possible that he has had some kind of input in any quarterback draft selection as an advisor.

Prior to the 2020 NFL draft, despite Tagovailoa being linked to the Dolphins draft, there were some rumors pointing otherwise. Bleacher Report released an article in early April of 2020 that an estimated 90 percent of information pointed that the Dolphins were going to draft Justin Herbert.

Even Albert Breer told Rich Eisen on his podcast that Marino was a fan of Herbert after seeing him at the 2020 Senior Bowl. However, Orlando Alzugaray on his own show, The Big O Show, called Breer’s information BS. The fact is that there hasn’t been any public content available of Marino discussing Herbert, while there is a lot of content of Marino discussing Tagovailoa.

In early January of 2020, Nick Wright of First Things First interviewed Marino. Wright asked him if there were concerns about Tagovailoa’s hip injury in drafting him. The moment that was mentioned, Marino rolled his eyes indicating that he was aware of the injury. Someone could also assume that Tagovailoa’s injury may have been discussed somewhere in a conversation Marino was part of. When Wright asked Marino if the “injury is too much to make that pick,” Marino smiled.

Marino responded to Wright’s question by saying that a lot of teams were going to take a hard look at Tagovailoa. He said that he didn’t know if the Dolphins were going to draft him or not (because he knew that would be Dolphins general manager Chris Grier’s final decision). He also believed in Tagovailoa enough to say that a team was going to draft him high. Marino went on to explain that there were a lot of question marks around Tagovailoa’s injury but had a lot of respect for him as a player.

A couple of weeks later, after Marino’s interview with Wright, Mackenzie Salmon of USA Today Sports interviewed Marino. She asked him, “How do you feel about Tua possibly becoming the newest face of the franchise?” Marino laughed and said he couldn’t answer that question anyway with the explanation that the Dolphins may or not draft a quarterback with the draft being so far away. He continued to say that it was a shame that he had to go through the injury. Marino also said that Tagovailoa was a much better player in college than he was.

During the summer of 2021, while the Watson trade rumors were gaining more traction, former ESPN reporter Cameron Wolfe interviewed Marino. Marino said that the Pandemic delayed Tagovailoa’s development. He went on to say that Tagovailoa works his butt off, has a lot of talent, and he was excited about Tagovailoa’s future with the Dolphins. He added that Tagovailoa was going to be there when he was needed.

During the 2021 Pre-Season, Marino was interviewed on the Tiki and Tierney show. He was asked if the Watson trade rumors were a real thing. Marino said that he never had a discussion like that. He also said that Tagovailoa has been their guy, they were sticking with him, and that was where they were going. At that point, it became evident until then that all of the Watson trade rumors had only been instigated by fans and media. It would have naturally been unprofessional as an NFL franchise to even consider trading for Deshaun Watson without Marino being aware of it.

Despite how many so-called sources the media wanted to claim they had, Tagovailoa was never going to be replaced by another quarterback since Marino was possibly the x-factor that advocated for him during the trade rumors. That’s not to say that once the rumors started to circulate from fans and media that former Dolphins head coach Brian Flores didn’t start to wonder if he should pursue Deshaun Watson.

The possibility is very strong that because of the trade rumors, Flores began to think that Watson could lead his team to the playoffs, despite the Dolphins’ defense blowing leads, missing game-tying field goals, having the worst offensive line, and Watson leading his previous team to only a 4-12 record with the same circumstances.

Even though there is no solid evidence, the theory isn’t crazy to believe that Flores may have gotten desperate enough during the Dolphins seven-game losing streak to pressure the Dolphins front office and even owner Stephen Ross to pursue Watson. If that was the case, then the Dolphins would have taken into consideration any request that their head coach requested. But even the thought of the Dolphins pursuing Watson divided the fan base, whether it was because of the allegations against him or because of Tagovailoa’s supporters. And if the thought of pursuing Watson divided a fan base, it’s not far-fetched to believe that it would possibly have divided those within the Dolphins own organization.

Everyone now knows that the hug and conversation Marino gave Tagovailoa before the Falcons game last year wasn’t words of encouragement at Tagovailoa’s last game as a Dolphins quarterback, as many speculated. It was evident that Marino did give him words of encouragement. But they very well could have been words of encouragement that Tagovailoa didn’t have to worry about being traded away. It’s not a crazy idea that Marino was actually giving Tagovailoa assurance because of the mounting pressure of a possible Watson trade before the coming trade deadline. Regardless, Marino definitely wanted him to be confident that he could lead the Dolphins to a win against the Falcons.

As a special advisor, did Marino consider it a bad idea to trade for Watson because it may have not been in the best interest of the culture and brand the Dolphins were trying to re-establish in the community? Did Marino believe that Tagovailoa had unseen upside that had limitations unnecessarily placed on him? Speculations and theories can be unlimited. Nevertheless, those speculations do exist. If Tagovailoa was never going to be traded away last season, one could only think if Marino was the possible x-factor advocating for Tagovailoa that kept Tua Tagovailoa as the starting quarterback for the Miami Dolphins. After all, Tua Tagovailoa does display an appearance of joy every time he publicly discusses or sees Dan Marino.