Ryan Tannehill got his biggest endorsement yet from Adam Gase — even though the Dolphins remain open to drafting a potential successor in Round 1.
“Ryan is going to be our starting quarterback,” Gase said at the NFL Scouting Combine. “And I don’t see that changing anytime soon. And I think that when we get back out there in spring and get going, I just know it’s going to be really good to have him back.”
So even if the Dolphins draft a quarterback at 11 — Josh Allen, Josh Rosen, Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold should all be in the mix — Tannehill remains the Dolphins’ quarterback of the present, and perhaps even the future.
It’s a huge vote of confidence for a player who has not appeared in a game since late 2016, when he sustained the first of two major knee injuries. Tannehill underwent reconstructive surgery after a recurrence in August 2017 and missed the entire season.
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But Gase said Wednesday that Tannehill’s rehab is apace, and suggested he should be ready for the start of the offseason program in April.
“Well, as far as what the trainers and doctors have told me, everything has progressed extremely well,” Gase said. “He’s always going to be ahead of where he’s supposed to be. He’s a physical freak and we’ll just kind of play this one as the week goes on, throughout the offseason. Really for me, I won’t personally know until we get into those stages to where we can be out at practice, throwing. All I can do is hear things are going good, he’s moving around well, he’s able to do what he needs to do to play quarterback.”
When asked how Tannehill would react if the Dolphins took a quarterback in the first round — which is usually a sign that the team is looking to move on from its incumbent starter — Gase responded: “Ryan would never shy away from anybody coming in at that position.”
As for how pumped Gase is to have Tannehill back — particularly after a 6-10 year in which the Dolphins were down to their fourth quarterback by the end of the season?
“I’m extremely excited,” Gase said. “I know really our entire roster is. The guys that I talk to at the end of the year, everybody appreciated what he brought to the table in years past. Sometimes you lose perspective of what somebody does for your team and what he did for us in 2016 when we lost him and going through an entire season without having him. I think the appreciation for him, not only for the coaching staff but other players is very high.”
Gase added that he would “love to draft a quarterback every year. It doesn’t always work out that way. We’ll see how the board falls for us.”
▪ Gase said that right tackle Ja’Wuan James (hamstring) is healthy, suggesting that James would pass a physical if given one. That’s important. The Dolphins would be on the hook for his $9.3 million fifth-year option if he was still injured at the start of the league year.
Assuming he is cleared, the Dolphins could cut James with no recourse. The Dolphins could also bring him back under a long-term deal with a lower annual salary.
“We’ve got to make a decision here coming up,” Gase said. “We’ve still got a couple weeks before we have to make any type of decision.”