Figure No. 1: The combined amount Ryan Tannehill and Ndamukong Suh cost against the Dolphins’ salary cap last year.
Figure No. 2: The number of touchdowns Tannehill and Suh together produced in 2017.
Yes, the two highest-paid players on the Dolphins’ roster last season scored as many points as you did.
No surprise, then, the Dolphins went 6-10 for the second time in three seasons.
They could not overcome getting zero points from two guys who ate up nearly one-fourth of the team’s payroll.
Important caveats: Tannehill missed the entire season with his second major knee injury in eight months. And Suh plays defensive tackle.
Still, in the age of scoring, this cannot happen.
And it usually doesn’t. The Dolphins were one of just seven teams to get zero touchdowns from their two highest-paid players in 2017.
Three of the other six teams had good seasons. They made the playoffs. But perspective: The quarterbacks for the Titans and Jaguars were on their rookie deals, allowing those teams to spend big on other positions. And the third franchise, the Bills, won nine games with Tyrod Taylor, who was paid less than 21 other NFL quarterbacks.
Meanwhile, the three other teams — the Browns, 49ers and Jets — without a touchdown from their top two were dumpster fires. They went a combined 11-37.
Why bring all of this up now?
Because for Miami, 2018 looks a lot like 2017 from a financial standpoint.
Just days from the start of the new league year, Suh and Tannehill are again projected to be the team’s two highest-paid players. And as it stands now, they would eat up an absurd $47.9 million — or a whopping 27 percent — of the team’s cap.
And another parallel: the men responsible, in varying degrees, for the team’s issues last season are the ones who tasked with fixing them this time around.
Mike Tannenbaum broke the bank for Suh in 2015 and gave Tannehill a big raise a few months later. Coach Adam Gase was comfortable enough with Tannehill’s health last spring that he rolled with Matt Moore as the backup.
So when Tannehill got hurt again, the Dolphins were forced to bring Jay Cutler out of retirement, costing the team another $10 million.
What to do? Gase doubled down on Tannehill this offseason, saying at the Combine that “Ryan is going to be our starting quarterback. And I don’t see that changing anytime soon.” Still, the Dolphins are at least considering a life after Tannehill and are expected to take a quarterback, perhaps high, in next month’s draft.
As for Suh? His immediate future with the team is less certain.
The Herald’s Barry Jackson and Armando Salguero have both reported that cutting Suh is one of several options the Dolphins are considering to get his unwieldy $26.1 million cap figure under control.
Should the Dolphins move on from a player who just three years ago they made the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history, they would likely cut him with the post-June 1 designation (assuming they cannot find a trade partner, and given his $17 million base salary, that seems unlikely).
Going the post-June 1 route would save the Dolphins some $17 million in cap space come the summer.
Moving on from Suh would help the Dolphins get their books in order.
It would also create a massive hole in their defense.
He’s paid princely for a reason: He is still one of the best at his position, even if the team’s defensive rankings do not reflect that.
And he is better (perhaps much better) than anyone else on the Dolphins’ roster.
Jordan Phillips was one of the team’s most-improved players in 2017, but is he Suh? No. The other two rotational defensive tackles last year were rookies Davon Godchaux and Vincent Taylor. If the Dolphins go into the season with those three and nothing more, they will be in trouble.
What about free agency, you ask? Someone flush with cap space is probably going to pay Seattle’s Sheldon Richardson more than the Dolphins can afford. Dontari Poe, Bennie Logan and Star Lotulelei are all fine players, but not in Suh’s class.
OK, then the draft, right?
Washington’s Vita Vea could be an option at 11, but that means no help at linebacker or offensive line and it definitely means no Baker Mayfield or Josh Rosen.
Perhaps Florida’s Taven Bryan and Michigan’s Maurice Hurst would be a consideration in Day 2.
But defensive tackle is not the easiest position for college players to pick up immediately in the pros, so even if the Dolphins use a high pick on one, it might be a year or two until he pops.
In short, there is no easy answer here. If you cut or keep Suh, there are drawbacks. Which is why another contract restructure — which kicks the can down the road again — has been and remains the likeliest outcome.