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Tagovailoa trades football pads for golf clubs to support Nick Saban

FILE - Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa speaks during a news conference following an NFL preseason football game against the Houston Texans, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023, in Houston. Tagovailoa is a finalist for The Associated Press 2023 Comeback Player of the Year.(AP Photo/Eric Gay)
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AP
FILE - Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa speaks during a news conference following an NFL preseason football game against the Houston Texans, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023, in Houston. Tagovailoa is a finalist for The Associated Press 2023 Comeback Player of the Year.(AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Tua Tagovailoa was not with the Miami Dolphins for organized team activities, evidently for a very good reason. He was at a charity golf tournament in Alabama hosted by now-retired Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban, his college coach — an absence that the Dolphins were perfectly fine with.

That said, Tagovailoa has also missed some time in recent weeks for non-golf reasons, presumably amid the talks between his representation and the team on an extension that could push the salary of Miami's starting quarterback to somewhere around $50 million annually.

"He has been here for offseason activities. He has not been here for offseason activities. He has been both," Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said. "I think, important in the player-coach relationship, is communication. However things play out, as long as we're communicating and we're on our p's and q's in what we need to get accomplished, then we have a fighting chance. It's been a good exercise in our relationship this offseason."

Tagovailoa was with the Dolphins on Monday for the start of OTAs. He was expected back in the Miami area later Tuesday after the tournament.

McDaniel didn't get into whether the other absences by Tagovailoa in recent weeks have been because of the contract talks.

"I don't make a habit of speaking for other people's mouths," McDaniel said. "I'll let you ask Tua."

Tagovailoa is entering his fifth season with the Dolphins, and Year 4 was by far the most successful of his tenure. He started all 17 games for the first time — he averaged 11 starts in his first three seasons — and finished with career highs of 4,624 yards, a 69% completion rate and 29 touchdown passes.

"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," said McDaniel — who is the play-caller. "And in that process, you get to find out on your own exactly where there's different areas where you can improve your game ... and I think the results speak for themselves."

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