TAMPA — Well, that could have gotten awkward.
Tom Brady and Tua Tagovailoa had a conversation during a Bucs-Dolphins joint practice Wednesday.
They talked about what they did in the offseason. They talked about golf.
Apparently, they didn’t talk about what happened last December when Brady was having “impermissible” discussions about joining the Dolphins, possibly taking over Tagovailoa’s job as their quarterback.
“For the most part, 23 years playing, that’s a long time, that’s a lot of knowledge so I was asking him some things and he gave me some good insight,” Tagovailoa said Wednesday. “But I’ll keep that between me and Tom. And if you guys want to ask Tom, go ask him.”
Brady hasn’t been made available to the media since last week, the day before the NFL ordered the Dolphins to forfeit their first-round pick in the 2023 draft and a third-round pick in 2024. Owner Stephen Ross was suspended until Oct. 17, banned from all league committees and fined $1.5 million.
In addition, Bruce Beal, the Dolphins’ vice chairman/limited partner and a friend of Brady’s, was fined $500,000 and may not attend any league meeting for the remainder of the year. Beal sits on the board of TB12, Brady’s health and wellness company.
Like Tagovailoa, Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel was asked Wednesday if it felt a little strange practicing against Brady and Tampa Bay only a week after the league revealed the tampering efforts.
“What happened? For me, nothing happened,” McDaniel said. “Everyone else is making it awkward. It doesn’t occupy a single iota of space with anybody. It’s hard enough to be good in this league. We’re the Miami Dolphins. ... All of our energy is very coordinated and only has to do with us getting better and anything else would be an opportunity for the opposite.”
Brady took the opportunity Wednesday to show the Dolphins what they were missing.
In one-on-one passing drills, he shredded the Miami secondary even without his top two receivers ― Mike Evans and Chris Godwin ― who were either out or limited with injuries.
Brady was dropping dimes, including one to receiver 33-year-old receiver Julio Jones, who beat Dolphins cornerback Noah Igbinoghene, plucking the football off the helmet of the Miami defender.
The Bucs have a mostly veteran roster, many of whom have joined or rejoined the Bucs and Brady this year for perhaps one last chance at winning a Super Bowl ring. The list includes Jones, receiver Russell Gage, tight end Kyle Rudolph and defensive tackle Akiem Hicks.
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But this Dolphins team could be one of the most explosive in the NFL, especially if Brady were under center. They’re younger and much faster, especially at the receiver position.
Tyreek Hill, the former Chiefs receiver who once caught 13 passes for 269 yards and three touchdowns in a win over the Bucs in 2020, is 28 and almost unstoppable. Bucs cornerback Carlton Davis did as good of a job on him Wednesday as one could hope for but came away impressed.
On the other side is Jaylen Waddle and Cedrick Wilson Jr., who also provide speed and separation. The Dolphins have an ascending tight end in Mike Gesicki, who had 73 catches for 780 yards and two touchdowns last season.
The Miami offensive line is solid with Terron Armstead at left tackle, Liam Eichenberg from Notre Dame at guard and Connor Williams at center.
“Obviously, they’ve got speed all across the field,” Bucs linebacker Lavonte David said. “They have a great tight end. Numerous amount of backs. With a guy like Tua, all he’s got to do is put the ball in the right spot and let those guys work. ... It was a great day to get a chance to go against a viable opponent.”
With Brady, the Dolphins would be a lot more than that.
Even Tua marvels at his poise and patience in the pocket.
“Nothing really rattles him,” Tagovailoa said. “You got a guy in your face, it’s just subtle movements and throwing the ball. I would say those are top trait qualities in a really good quarterback with him, Russ(ell Wilson), Aaron Rodgers, all those big-time guys.”
During practice, because the Dolphins offense was on another field, Tagovailoa didn’t get much of a chance to watch Brady.
“Contrary to popular belief, Tua doesn’t play one snap against Tom Brady,” McDaniel said. “But it’s more about this organization and the type of football they played. It’s tremendous for all the guys when we’re trying to play football at a high level.”
Bottom line for Tagovailoa after all the tampering fallout? “I’m still here. To me that’s all noise at this point.”
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