Big paydays await Trevor Lawrence, Tua Tagovailoa as camps open
Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa throws during practice at the NFL football team's training facility, Wednesday, July 26, 2023, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Tua throwing
Quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa of the Dolphins and the Jaguars' Trevor Lawrence know that the Chargers' Justin Herbert's new contact sets the bar for their respective future negotiations.

When news broke of Los Angeles Chargers’ quarterback Justin Herbert’s new contract, two young quarterbacks in Florida took note of the 5-year, $262.5 million deal.

Both the Miami Dolphins’ Tua Tagovailoa and Trevor Lawrence of the Jacksonville Jaguars are approaching the time for their second professional contracts.

As training camps opened this week, the two quarterbacks had somewhat different reactions when asked by reporters about Herbert’s deal, which averages $52.5 million per season.

In fact, Tagovailoa also brought up another contract signed by Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts, who agreed to a 5-year, $255 million deal after leading his team to the Super Bowl.

“It’s big. First off, congrats to him and Jalen (Hurts),” Tagovailoa said. “I think it’s really good for the quarterback market. It gets me excited. It gets me going. At the same time, they got what they deserved and I’m happy for them.”

Tagovailoa is entering his fourth season in the NFL and has one more year remaining on his rookie contract after this season. Most teams work to get young star quarterbacks signed to a long-term deal before the fifth year. But Tagovailoa’s history of concussions is a legitimate reason for concern.

Two confirmed concussions and another expected concussion forced him to miss six games in 2022, including in the playoffs.

As for expectations for the season, Tagovailoa is bullish on the Dolphins’ chances to have a memorable year.

“God willing, we all can stay healthy, I think this offense can do crazy things,” Tagovailoa said. “I think we can be dangerous. We have the potential to do something really, really special for the city of Miami, to do something special for the organization. We all have some sort of influence in others’ lives when we play together when we win, and we do something special. That’s the expectation, that’s the hope. That’s what we’re looking for.”

Lawrence, who is entering his third season, revealed only a slight grin as the contract question was asked, then said, “Yeah, I saw it. That’s pretty big news. I don’t really pay too much attention. Obviously, I saw it, you keep up with what’s going on around the league in general. Not even just contracts, but what’s been going on.”

That’s not giving too much away and is the kind of answer Lawrence has given to the business side of football during news conferences in his first two seasons. Entering year three, Lawrence continues to be comfortable talking about the football side of the job and is always effusive in his praise of his teammates.

During the same news conference, Lawrence said of new wide receiver Calvin Ridley, “Just watching him, the way he runs, there are not many guys like that especially in and out of his breaks. He’s just really crafty, has great ball skills.”

Lawrence has been groomed to be a leader on a professional level. Even during the disastrous 2021 season when Urban Meyer was the head coach, Lawrence never wavered, earning respect from his teammates, including veterans who knew what a mess things were in Jacksonville then.

Now, it’s different.

The Jaguars are the prohibitive favorites to win the AFC South and are among the top contenders to challenge the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC.

Will both quarterbacks have new deals before next season begins? It’s likely. Just how substantial the contracts will be depends on what happens on the field in the next seven months.

Cole Pepper

Cole Pepper has covered professional, college and high school sports in Florida since 1996. Originally from the Kansas City area, Pepper came to Jacksonville to launch a sports radio station, the first step in a career that has included work in radio, television, and online reporting. He was the studio host for the Jaguars radio network for 15 seasons and now consults for JAX USL, the group bringing professional men's and women's soccer to northeast Florida. You can reach Cole at [email protected] or on Twitter @ColePepper


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