Nick Saban doesn’t want NFL teams to make the same mistake with Tua Tagovailoa that he made with Drew Brees 14 years ago.
Saban was the head coach of the Miami Dolphins in 2006 when they considered signing Brees as a free agent but ultimately passed due to injury concerns.
Tagovailoa was Saban’s quarterback the past three years at Alabama before suffering a season-ending hip dislocation on Nov. 16 against Mississippi State. The former NCAA champion is among the top prospects in Thursday’s NFL Draft, and Saban believes teams who pass on Tua over fears about his injuries ultimately will regret it.
“We failed Drew Brees on the physical. That’s why he’s not Miami’s quarterback,” Saban told the Wall Street Journal earlier this week. “The sky’s the limit (with Tagovailoa). I don’t think any of the questions with Tua have to do with his ability to throw the ball and be effective.”
Brees was chosen by the San Diego Chargers in the second round of the 2001 draft and made the Pro Bowl for them in 2004. But the Chargers acquired Philip Rivers’ rights from the Giants in a draft-day trade for Eli Manning earlier that year, and decided to make a change at the position after Brees suffered a torn labrum and rotator cuff in his right shoulder in 2005.
Saban and the Dolphins backed off from Brees in free agency after he failed their physical exam and instead traded for Daunte Culpepper. Following a 6-10 season, Saban bolted for Alabama, where he has won five national championships.
Brees went on to become the NFL’s all-time leader in passing yards (77,416) with the New Orleans Saints.