National Football League
Why has Tua Tagovailoa lost weight this offseason? We explain Dolphins' reasoning
National Football League

Why has Tua Tagovailoa lost weight this offseason? We explain Dolphins' reasoning

Updated May. 22, 2024 2:12 p.m. ET

For yet another offseason, the conversation around Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa revolves around his contract. But there's another recurring theme: his weight change.

Last offseason, Tua went viral for how he'd bulked up. This offseason, it's just the opposite. The quarterback has slimmed back down. It's all according to the Dolphins' plan, even if it's strange to see such opposite plans take place from one offseason to the next.

"That was a big year this past season for Tua, being able to play the entirety of it at the professional level as well as having two years in a row with the same offense and play caller,' McDaniel said when asked about Tua's recent weight loss. "That's something that we directly relate — him and I — in terms of looking for those competitive advantages, so I think he identified that as one for himself and has — I think the results speak for themselves. He's svelte."

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The Dolphins asked Tagovailoa to bulk up last offseason after he'd suffered concussions during the 2022 season, according to a source close to the situation. The idea was that more weight would make Tua harder to throw to the ground, which would mitigate the types of rag-doll hits that led to his concussions. During that 2022 offseason, Tagovailoa also trained in Jiu-Jitsu to train himself to fall more gracefully. Both the Dolphins and Tua agreed that the martial art was working for him in 2024, but the weight was limiting his mobility. So the Dolphins asked him to drop his weight from around 235 to 220, where he is now. 

Folks around him have said he's in the best shape of his life. You've seen McDaniel's characterization: "svelte."

Tagovailoa finished the 2023 season with 4,624 passing yards, 29 touchdowns and 14 interceptions while completing 68.3% of his passes. He did that with the fastest time to throw in his career at 2.32 seconds, also the quickest in the NFL.

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While his weight change wasn't exactly incremental, it does signal an incremental change in what the Dolphins want from him in 2024.

As a draft prospect at the NFL combine in 2020, Tua weighed in at 217 pounds. He didn't participate in the events, because he was dealing with hip surgery. But he was touted as having "active, agile feet" while fitting "the mold of NFL's new dual-threat quarterbacks." In college, Tagovailoa could escape the pocket and improvise as the Crimson Tide made regular use of bootlegs. This isn't to say that, in his fifth NFL season, Tagovailoa is suddenly going to start playing like Russell Wilson — and definitely not like Lamar Jackson. Tagovailoa has made his money as a pocket passer in the Dolphins offense. But perhaps this move to a lighter weight will help him bring a slightly more elusive presence in the pocket.

"I think just being more twitchy and elusive in the pocket. He will never be a runner but [it's about] extending plays a little more," a Dolphins source said. "It's a delicate balance, though, because he needs to stay healthy."

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That's the downside. You've heard the expression: if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Tua's heaviest season was, in fact, his healthiest season. He didn't miss a game. But the Dolphins, the QB and the people close to Tua believe that his Jiu-Jitsu work will, indeed, hold off additional injuries. Tagovailoa's last documented concussion was in Dec. 2022 — and, before that, Sept. 2022. Let those be the last he has to manage.

Prior to joining FOX Sports as the AFC East reporter, Henry McKenna spent seven years covering the Patriots for USA TODAY Sports Media Group and Boston Globe Media. Follow him on Twitter at @henrycmckenna.


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