Tua among players with fifth-year option exercised

Mike Florio and Chris Simms examine the players whose teams have exercised their fifth-year options, including Tua Tagovailoa, Joe Burrow and more.

Video Transcript

MIKE FLORIO: Let's look at the guys who have had their fifth year option exercised from the 2021 first round draft class. I mean, and this is just proving our point. We assume everything is awesome. Everything is great. All 31 of the players taken last Thursday night are destined for Canton. And look, here we are from three years ago, it doesn't even fill more than one screen of the 32 guys taken who have had the option exercised already.

The one name that stands out, for reasons already discussed, Tua Tagovailoa. I think there were motivations for it beyond-- I mean, really, think about it, you're guaranteeing that money of $23.2 million for injury and skill while the jury is still out on both.

It's funny, I was trying to-- I was trying to-- long story bearable, somebody said, hey, I'll watch tomorrow if you don't crap on Tua. Sorry, guy who said don't crap on Tua, but we're just speaking the truth here. We're speaking the truth. The jury is still out as to both health and skill. And he's got $23.2 million guaranteed for 2024 with open questions about is he good enough and can he stay healthy?

CHRIS SIMMS: Yeah, no that's crazy.

MIKE FLORIO: That's the one that stunned me. And I feel like I feel like they feel a duty and obligation. They feel like they owed it to him to do this. In order to get anything out of him positive for 2023, they had to do that for '24 to have any hope of having him play well in '23.

CHRIS SIMMS: That's how I read it.

MIKE FLORIO: That, to me, if that's true-- if that's true--

CHRIS SIMMS: It's not good business.

MIKE FLORIO: That's all the more reason to not pick up the option.

CHRIS SIMMS: No, exactly, it's not good business. You're doing something outside the realm of what is good business here to, I don't know what, appease the player, appease the politics, appease the what? The Miami Herald? Appease TuAnon? I don't know, they're negotiate-- they negotiate against themselves here with this one.

But at the same time, you and I both know how rattled Tua was with the Deshaun Watson conversation and the uneasiness there. I mean, people I've talked to down there, I know you've talked to your group of people there. I mean, it wasn't good. He was completely off kilter because of the Deshaun Watson talk.

So they obviously felt like they, yeah, I think you're right, Mike, that your read is right. That they had to make him feel comfortable to get the best out of him. And then limit the talk and all the stuff outside of the organization. And that's why they do it. But certainly the one that jumps out to me as well, Mike.

MIKE FLORIO: The Deshaun Watson talk really first hit fever pitch training camp conclusion, right around Labor Day, where you cut the rosters down and name captains. And one of the things-- And I said this before, and no one's ever pushed back against it, 2021, when all the Watson stuff was really--

And there was the term that I heard was fixated. That's Brian Flores, the head coach, was fixated on getting Deshaun Watson. I think Stephen Ross, the owner was as well. But they vote on captains. And they voted for a C for Tua. And Tua it didn't want it. Tua didn't want it.

That's how rattled and off kilter everything was, that he felt like it was just a matter of time before he was ushered out the door. So I don't want-- I don't want your C. I don't want your C. I'm not going to be here for very long. So I think that experience, and what happened last year, I feel like at a certain level-- and let's be-- let's be glass half full here.

It's humanity. It's concern for the human. It's how can we do this to this kid? It's not his fault. He's out there busting his ass, trying his hardest. And when he's healthy, he plays really well. We got to show support for him. We got to give him this commitment. We got to take this burden off of his plate. He's got enough to deal with. He's got enough to worry about.

We're going to do something that may be called, dispassionate analysis, we shouldn't do. We're going to do it because we think it's the right thing to do. If that's the reason, I can get behind that.

CHRIS SIMMS: I can get behind it too.

MIKE FLORIO: --a little more easily than I can get-- than I can get behind this idea that he's going to be worthless to us this year. He's not going to be able to survive a Daniel Jones year. He's not going to rise to that occasion. He's going to crumble. So if we want anything good out of him this year, we better pick up that fifth year option and treat that as a sunken cost for 2024, tear it up and redo it, whatever the case may be.

So anyway, I think you and I both would have not exercised it. But I think I kind of understood what you did. And maybe there's a good humanitarian reason in there for doing it.

CHRIS SIMMS: Yeah, no, no doubt about it. I think there is a good humanitarian reason there in that. And I think Mike McDaniel has shown that already. And I think he has a true caring for Tua. And I think then you add on to what you're saying, wait, we don't know if he can actually handle this situation in a one year-- this could be it-- all the pressure of that, let's not do that.

Let alone, Tom Brady's living down the street and won't squash the Miami stuff. So all of that probably plays into this whole thing here. But all right, Mike, so the rest of the list. Anybody else jump on you there-- or jump out to you as far as fifth year options that were exercised? Jedrick Wills-- Tristan--

MIKE FLORIO: Well Tristan Wirfs, Tristan Wirfs is moving right side to left side.

CHRIS SIMMS: No brainer.

MIKE FLORIO: I don't know how big of an issue that is. You know what? If it doesn't work on the left side, you put him back on the right side. You don't just get rid of him. He's been good enough that you keep him around. You pay the money for the fifth year option.

CHRIS SIMMS: Yeah, that's right. Wirfs is, I think, a special tackle. Wirfs is in that convo for best right tackle in football. I think he'll continue that to the left side. He's an extremely athletic guy. Yeah, there's an adjustment period there. You've alluded to it in one of your gross ways one time before.

MIKE FLORIO: He's the one that said it.

CHRIS SIMMS: That was him. That's where it went into my head. Yeah, sometimes you wipe with the right. And I got to learn to wipe with the left.

MIKE FLORIO: It's like learning how to-- it's like learning how to wipe with your other hand, changing from left to right, right to left. He said it. I thought of that when he said a couple of weeks ago that he's working out both ways just to be ready because they didn't know at the time. And I said, boy, somebody made that comment at some point. So I searched it. It's like, it was him. He's the one who said it.

CHRIS SIMMS: Yeah, he's-- I think he'll make the transition. I think by the time the season comes around, he'll be awesome, and rolling, and ready to go. Jerry Jeudy, I was interested to see what Sean Payton would do there. Because, of course, there was the talk of like, hey, all these guys are available. And you can do that.

But I think Jerry Jeudy's done enough. And you realize, wait, we can't just let that guy out the door this year. And especially, I think, with the state of the rest of the receivers in Denver, he's a valuable commodity. That was one maybe I was interested to see where that went.

Jedrick Wills maybe surprised me to a-- I wasn't sure. I don't want to say surprised me. It wasn't sure. I think after that, I thought it was pretty chalk and thought these guys would be franchised-- or fifth year options.

MIKE FLORIO: There was a time early in Brandon Aiyuk's career where I thought it wouldn't go. He's come on.

CHRIS SIMMS: He has, agreed.

MIKE FLORIO: Guy they traded up to get, Packers were waiting for him. Packers wanted Justin Jefferson then Brandon Aiyuk. And then they activated the Jordan Love strategy. But I thought Aiyuk, early on in his career, wasn't developing into the guy they needed him to be. But he has.

CHRIS SIMMS: Yes, he has.

MIKE FLORIO: Gotten that fifth year option.