To steal a line from Nora Ephron, everything is copy. Even in the NFL.
That’s the phrase that comes to mind while looking at what's hanging over Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who by all accounts has done nothing but come into the league, work hard and position himself for a second season that promises improvement. He didn’t ask to be pulled into Miami’s awkward continuing interest in Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, which now has the fan base picking through (and arguing) the word salad offered by head coach Brian Flores in his last media conference. Flores offered praise for Tagovailoa but also didn't put the dagger into the Watson pursuit.
It’s not the first instance a talented quarterback has been in an organization where he was going to have to keep earning his opportunities one game at a time, maybe all season long. That’s the copy: a familiar, sometimes nondescript feeling that someone important in an organization has a wandering eye for another quarterback, despite being tied to the one who is already leading the first-team offense.
When the season began last year, it was San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan getting antsy about Jimmy Garoppolo. When the season ended, it was Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay losing faith in Jared Goff. And in between, it was a large portion of the Philadelphia Eagles coaching staff turning away from Carson Wentz.
That’s three quarterbacks who were given massive (and very recent) contracts to signify their standing as Titanic-sized anchors for the future. And by the end of the 2020 season, all three organizations were sawing through the chain of commitment that was tethering them together. That’s the theme here: NFL teams — and head coaches in particular — have a propensity to run hot and cold with a quarterback. Particularly if they think a better option is within reach.