NFL Draft

How Tua’s Injury Impacts the NFL

Mason Thompson | November 18th, 2019

Alabama’s star quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa went down with an injury up 28 points against Mississippi State on Saturday. He already was dinged up heading into the game with an ankle injury and was a game-time decision. Well, he won’t be playing any games for the remainder of the year. Tagovailoa was carted off the field with what was later to be determined as a dislocated hip.

He was one, if not the best quarterback in the 2020 draft class which will be heavily impacted by his injury. The league will have a ton of turnover at the position, and his injury adds another chapter to the carousel that is going to happen this off-season.

Free Agents/Trade Targets

With a plethora of teams looking for a new signal-caller this off-season, it’s important to look at all aspects of the position. Superstars like Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Philip Rivers all have contracts that are up after this year. Other options from the free-agent crop include Eli Manning, Teddy Bridgewater, Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Dak Prescott, and Ryan Tannehill. Prescott is the only one of these six that seem likely to stay on their current teams. Manning, Winston, and Mariota have all been benched at one point by their current teams while Bridgewater and Tannehill have potentially revived their careers with strong showings on the Saints and Titans.

Along with the free-agent crop, Cam Newton, C.J. Beathard, Josh Rosen, Andy Dalton, and Joe Flacco have all been rumored to be on new teams next year. The free-agent class will finally be an intriguing one when it comes to the position.

Teams That Need a Quarterback

Chicago Bears

The Mitchell Trubisky era seems to be winding down in Chicago. The Bears have regressed immensely since last year and are in a must-win mentality for the rest of the year. Lacking a first-round pick, it will be difficult for Chicago to find their guy unless a trade were to happen for Cam Newton, which seems possible this point in time.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jameis Winston is still, well, Jameis Winston. He can completely help you one game then lose a game single-handedly the next. Many thought that Bruce Arians could find a way around Winston’s turnover woes but it hasn’t occurred yet. If Winston wasn’t at the controls, who knows how good the Buccaneers could be right now.

Carolina Panthers

The Panthers are in quite a predicament. Cam Newton seems to have one foot in the facility and one foot out at this point with the team succeeding without him. Kyle Allen‘s contract is also up at the end of this year, while the team selected Will Grier in the third round of the draft this past year. It will be interesting to see how General Manager, Marty Hurney handles the situation.

Miami Dolphins

Early in the season, the Dolphins looked like they were tanking, particularly for Tua. The team has won two games and has three first-round selections in April’s draft. The ammo is there for the team to select a quarterback if the team seems fit to do so. Josh Rosen has gotten the short-end of the stick for both teams he’s been on while Ryan Fitzpatrick isn’t the future.

Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals have been a laughing stock this year. Andy Dalton is going to get cut or traded this off-season with no dead-money heading towards the organization. Ryan Finley has potential but with the team likely having a top-three pick, it will be difficult for the Bengals to not take a quarterback, specifically Joe Burrow.

Tennessee Titans

Marcus Mariota has been benched with his contract expiring after this year. Ryan Tannehill has been a pleasant surprise but isn’t the future of the organization and his contract expires after this year as well. The Titans have seemingly been 9-7 forever and need someone to take them out of mediocrity.

New Orleans Saints, Pittsburgh Steelers, Los Angeles Chargers

Drew Brees and Teddy Bridgewater both have expiring contracts and Taysom Hill is more of a gadget player than a quarterback. Bridgewater should get a starting job somewhere. With Roethlisberger having another injury, it’s time to start thinking of his replacement because Mason Rudolph isn’t going to cut it, as seen in the Cleveland game. The Chargers don’t have a young guy to groom besides Easton Stick and Rivers can’t have the team on his shoulders forever.

Washington Redskins, Denver Broncos

Will the Redskins take a page out of the Cardinals book and take a quarterback a year after taking one? The new Head coach won’t be tied to Haskins and it seems as if the team already is re-thinking its decision of taking him. With Elway as GM, the Broncos will always be looking for a new successor, and have been since Peyton Manning‘s retirement. The team needs to see Drew Lock in action before deciding anything.

Does Tua Return to Alabama?

With the recovery time listed anywhere between eight and twelve months, Tua must decide if he returns to school or declares for the draft. His recovery time puts him on the field at the earliest in mid-July. He could potentially lose millions of dollars if he were to declare for this year’s draft. I don’t see a team taking him with an early-round selection not knowing if he will be the same after this injury, if at all. I think Tua benefits greatly from returning to school, seeing as he can go back to Alabama and compete for another championship, while also maintaining his draft stock for the 2021 draft. It will also be interesting for teams to decide which they prefer between him and Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence.

How Much Does Tua Slip if he Declares?

With his injury timetable being eight to twelve months, it’s unsure if he even plays in 2020 if he declares. Teams have selected risks with injuries in the first round before, with the Titans taking Jeffery Simmons this past year, but there hasn’t been one that plays as a Quarterback. Each team will need to have their doctors take a long look at him and see if he is medically cleared, and if he is worth the risk wherever a team takes him, if at all. I wouldn’t expect Tua to be drafted in the first round knowing his injury risk.

The Draft if Tua Doesn’t Declare

Joe Burrow becomes QB1 if he isn’t already. Justin Herbert has gone through his ups and downs this year but seems back on track and is now likely QB2. Jacob Eason, Jordan Love, and Jalen Hurts all have their traits that make them unique to certain organizations but are they worth a first-round pick? As usual, the need will prompt quarterbacks to move up the draft board. In reality, this makes players like Chase Young, Jeffrey Okudah, Tristan Wirfs, Derrick Brown, and Isaiah Simmons more valuable. It also means less trade action potentially, with teams not jockeying to see if they can land their next franchise signal-caller. Overall, it will be difficult to see what teams like Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Carolina, and the Chargers do in the middle of the draft with needs other than quarterback on the roster.

Tua’s injury impacts the NFL more than many think. With over ten teams potentially looking at adding a quarterback, teams must know what they’re getting with him, which is why I think he should return to Alabama. Without Tua in the draft, the team’s strategies shift as no one will attempt to leapfrog Miami and give up the house to get him. Miami is the wild-card in this whole scenario. They would be the one team that I believe would take the chance on him in the first round if he were to come out. It will be interesting to see what takes place in the next few months.

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Main Credit Image: Embed from Getty Images

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