BOSTON (CBS) — As recently as Saturday morning, Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was expected to be a top pick in the 2020 draft. That changed in an instant, though, when he suffered a serious hip injury before halftime against Mississippi State.
Tagovailoa underwent successful surgery on Monday to repair his injured hip, but it’s not yet known when exactly he’ll be ready to play football again. When he’s able to perform at his previous level remains an even bigger question.
As such, he’s no longer a lock to be drafted in the top five next April. While that’s a devastating turn of events for Tagovailoa, former Jets GM and former Dolphins executive VP of football operations Mike Tannenbaum said that it could be the Patriots’ gain.
“To me, this lines up so well for New England,” Tannenbaum said Monday on “Golic And Wingo” on ESPN. “Because if I’m New England, I take him at the bottom of the first round, and I say, ‘Look, you’re not playing for one year, maybe two. Because we’re going to make sure that you’re a thousand percent healthy, not just 99 percent.'”
In that scenario, of course, the Patriots would still have Tom Brady under center for 2020 and perhaps 2021. With Brady set to become a free agent next spring, it’s unclear exactly what his future will be. He could retire, he could sign elsewhere, or he could return to the Patriots. If so, the addition of a high-risk, high-reward player like Tua could pay off in the long run.
Tannenbaum noted how the injury is of course a massive blow for Tagovailoa, but it also gives the young quarterback some leverage that he would not have had otherwise.
“It’s obviously a tragic and unfortunate situation. But moving it forward now, we’re going to be talking about this through April because the permutations to me are truly historic. You could declare for the draft, and then truly evaluate how that goes,” Tannenbaum said. “If I’m Tua, and I’m drafted in the middle of the first round by — I’m making this up — the Cincinnati Bengals? I may say, ‘You know what? I have world-class care. I have more leverage than John Elway. I have more leverage than Eli Manning. I’m gonna rehab myself for a year, and I’ll go back into the draft [in 2021].”
Tagovailoa has completed 69.3 percent of his passes, averaging 10.9 yards per attempt while throwing 87 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in his collegiate career. He’s also rushed for 340 yards and nine touchdowns. He famously entered the 2017 National Championship Game to replace Jalen Hurts, and he threw three touchdowns and one interception while leading the Crimson Tide back from a 13-0 halftime deficit.
Tannenbaum also noted that there is no certainty with Tua’s recovery timetable, which will affect his draft status significantly.
“Unfortunately, I have a lot of history with this injury. Orthopedic surgeons hate this injury because that part of the hip, that socket, is not well-vascularized, and the recovery is very hard to predict,” Tannenbaum explained. “We all know football well. We live in a world where we want certainty. ACL, it’s X. Achilles, it’s Y. They don’t know on this injury. It’s very body-specific, because the blood supply is so poor. That’s not to say he can’t make a full recovery.”
Obviously, a number of things can change between now and late April, but the prospect of the Patriots suddenly being in the mix for Tua is now officially on the football world’s radar.