Brian Hartline said all along he wanted to stay in Miami.
He and the Dolphins made that a reality late Thursday night. The two sides agreed to a five-year, $30.8 million contract that will pay him $12.5 million in guaranteed money, according to a source familiar with the negotiation.
“So happy and blessed to be here in Miami,” Hartline texted The Miami Herald just after midnight. “Now let’s go win some championships.”
Said Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland: “Brian is an ascending player that has steadily improved over his first four years with the organization. He has represented himself positively both on the field and throughout the South Florida community.”
For Hartline, it was the end of a months-long back and forth, during which he maintained all along he wanted to remain with the team that drafted him four years ago.
Hartline had a career year in his contract year, catching 74 passes for 1,083 yards as Ryan Tannehill’s No. 1 target. The 26-year-old who played his collegiate ball at Ohio State would have been free to speak to all 32 teams had the negotiations dragged on another 24 hours.
The deal caps a remarkable nine months for Hartline, who last summer thought he might never play again after complications from an emergency appendectomy left him bedridden.
Instead, he’s now the highest-paid receiver on the Dolphins – at least for now. His deal should not affect the team’s expected run at Mike Wallace, the most coveted wideout on the free agent market.
The structure of the deal was not immediately known, but the Dolphins had more than $35 million in salary cap space before it was reached. The club still has 10 unrestricted free agents – including Jake Long, Reggie Bush and Sean Smith – who will all hit the open market Tuesday if a deal is not reached.