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Brian Flores: I’m excited to work with Tua Tagovailoa

Chris Simms dives into where RBs could land amid NFL free agency, as Aaron Jones cements himself at the top of the list, as well as why Marlon Mack, Chris Carson and Leonard Fournette are guys to watch out for.

Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa had an up-and-down rookie season — one that looks a lot worse when compared directly to offensive rookie of the year Justin Herbert.

But Tagovailoa was still the No. 5 overall pick in 2020. And even with Miami in the middle of Deshaun Watson trade rumors and head coach Brian Flores saying he’d welcome back Ryan Fitzpatrick, Flores said Thursday he’s excited about Tagovailoa for 2021.

“You think about his situation last year, coming off the hip and throwing him into the fire,” Flores said, via Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “Started nine games and made a lot of improvement throughout the season. Had some up and downs. I’m excited about the Year 1 to 2 jump.

“No OTAs. Different training camp. You guys know me. I’m all about the development of players and helping them develop, and helping them get better. This time, in the offseason, is really going to be helpful to him and all the rookies. I’m excited about working with him this offseason.”

Asked specifically about his reaction to rumors the Dolphins could add a veteran quarterback (one presumably named Watson, but Flores cannot mention that name because it would be tampering), Flores replied, “My reaction is I’m excited to work with Tua.”

“That’s where my interests are,” Flores said, via Hal Habib of the Palm Beach Post. “That’s where my excitement is.”

Flores noted he had lunch with Tagovailoa on Wednesday and that he’s confident in the quarterback.

Tagovailoa completed 64 percent of his passes for 1,814 yards with 11 touchdowns and five interceptions in 2020, compiling a 6-3 record as a starter. But Flores also used Fitzpatrick as a “relief pitcher” of sorts when Tagovailoa struggled in a pair of games, benching the rookie for the veteran QB.

Armed with the No. 3 overall pick in 2021, Miami could potentially package Tagovailoa in a deal to acquire Watson.

Unless and until that happens, Flores should be excited about developing the No. 5 overall pick from just last year.