An interesting narrative is beginning to emerge around Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa after his agent told the media during Super Bowl week that it might be better for his client not to be a starting quarterback after he is drafted this spring. For a team considering investing a first-round draft pick as well as the money that goes to such a high selection, will NFL teams be turned off by this kind of information being put out there by an agent? Will they be thinking what I am thinking, that this player is not looking to prove himself on the next level yet and may not be worth risking the future of your franchise on by taking him in the first round of the draft?
Leigh Steinberg is the agent for Tua Tagovailoa, and during an interview during Super Bowl week, he used this comparison when explaining why his client might be better off sitting during his rookie year: “I will tell you that Patrick Mahomes [was] greatly helped . . . by the fact that he had a year to learn and he learned behind Alex Smith, and Alex Smith was a generous mentor.”
Steinberg continued to make his case by adding: “It takes the right personality in the existing quarterback to bring along the next young quarterback, but if you look at Aaron Rodgers, Carson Palmer, Philip Rivers, none of them started the first year and my wish for Tua would be that he would go to a team that would give him a year to learn the system and do everything before the pressure of being a starting quarterback was upon him.”
OK, let’s review Mr. Steinberg’s points here and add some facts to put them in a more honest context. Aaron Rodgers fell to the Packers and Brett Favre was still on the team when Green Bay selected him. When Philip Rivers was traded from the Giants to the Chargers, the Drew Brees was still the team’s quarterback. When Kansas City drafted Patrick Mahomes, everyone knew they liked him AND there plan all along was to let their new quarterback sit a year since Andy Reid’s playbook is more difficult to understand than your high school physics textbook was. Further breaking apart Steinberg’s argument is the rookie contract that first-round draft picks sign, giving team a five-year window to build a team around him while still having their quarterback as a discounted salary, something that using his rookie year as a understudy takes away from. In short, teams want their quarterbacks to start playing right away, because the clock is running and they need to know how good their player is right away, not in a year.
I am not high on Tua Tagovailoa as a NFL prospect because of his injury history, which is likely another reason why his agent wants him to sit out a season, because presumably he can’t get hurt holding a clipboard. If I was a team looking to draft the Alabama quarterback (looking at you Miami Dolphins), I would run away from him after reading these comments, because if he can’t play, or worse, doesn’t want to play his rookie year, then that tells me that he is worried about his own skills as well as his durability, and I would look elsewhere for my franchise quarterback in the upcoming draft.
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