Bill Ingram/ Palm Beach Post

The Dolphins placed quarterback Tua Tagovailoa on injured reserve Saturday, meaning the 2020 first-round pick will miss at least three games as he recovers from his fractured ribs.

Tagovailoa hasn't had much good fortune since Miami selected him, and this setback comes at an inopportune time, with ownership mulling an acquisition of Texans' embattled franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson and Tagovailoa's durability and future in South Florida already a subject of conservable debate. Head coach Brian Flores has made it clear to those around him how much he prizes availability at the quarterback position (and prefers bigger, strapping pocket passers all things considered), spending his time as an assistant in New England around Hall of Famer Tom Brady.

Numerous personnel men and coaches around the league have heard, dating back to last season, that Flores would have preferred to select Justin Herbert over Tagovailoa, although team and league sources say general manager Chris Grier consults with Flores on all big personnel moves and in general tries to provide the personnel the coaches covet. Regardless, Flores was quick to hook Tagovailoa from games his rookie season, injuries have been a problem for the passer since his time at Alabama, and the Dolphins have done considerable work on Watson, with owner Stephen Ross quite intrigued by the quarterback, sources said.

Tagovailoa's injury doesn't make it any more likely a deal gets done, as Miami has been unwilling to meet the Texans' very steep price for Watson to this point, and there remains very real concern that any team that traded for Watson would not get to play him anyway, as the NFL could place him on the Commissioner's Exempt List at any point. That would mean he gets paid not to play as the league and local authorities continue to investigate the claims of sexual misconduct and sexual assault made against him by at least 22 women in Houston. The Texans are currently paying Watson not to play or take part in practice as they await further word of any legal or NFL discipline he might face.

Rib injuries can linger for quarterbacks, and, given the porous state of Miami's offensive line and how many hits Tagovailoa has been taking, it's fair to wonder how the Dolphins manage to navigate him through what is now a 17-game season. The Dolphins face the undefeated Raiders on Sunday, host the Colts in Week 4 and travel to the Super Bowl champion Buccaneers the following week. Tagovailoa is eligible to come off IR for the Dolphins' Week 6 showdown with the Jaguars in London on Oct. 17.

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