Super Bowl Sunday closes the book on yet another NFL season.
But for Mike Tannenbaum, it’s the beginning of a new chapter.
That’s because Tannenbaum, the former Jets general manager, takes over as the Miami Dolphins’ executive vice president of football operations on the day a new champion is crowned.
He’ll do a little bit of everything in his new role, but a big part of his job will be helping decide what and how to compensate Ryan Tannehill going forward. Dolphins GM Dennis Hickey already made it clear that Tannehill is in the team’s future plans – even if Tannenbaum jokingly pleaded ignorance on the subject to the Miami Herald.
“I’m assuming [Tannehill’s agent] Pat Dye is going to read what I say, so I’m going to say, ‘We’re not really sure about Ryan,’ ” Tannenbaum said before laughing.
Then Tannenbaum added, more seriously: “One of the fun part of these jobs is the Collective Bargaining Agreement gives you a lot of clubs you can put in your bag, and you sit down and you try to hammer out and you try to find a landing spot that’s good for Ryan, Pat Dye, Steve Ross, the Miami Dolphins and everybody in between.”
So yes, at some point – either this offseason or next – the team will enter contract extension talks with Tannehill, who is technically entering the final year of his deal. But given those CBA options Tannenbaum referenced, there’s not the urgency one might expect.
Assuming a long-term deal isn’t in place by May, the Dolphins will almost certainly pick up the fifth-year, $15 million option on Tannehill’s rookie contract.
“When you’re dealing with the emotional dynamic of no deadlines, sometimes things can just take a little bit longer,” Tannenbaum said. “I think there’s enough clubs in your bag to find a landing spot. It just takes some time.”
A far more pressing matter: What to do about the team’s somewhat limited salary cap situation. Though the precise salary cap figure for 2015 has not been announced, it’s expected to be around $142 million. Even with money carried over from 2014, the Dolphins are only believed to currently be around $3 million to $5 million under that figure.
However, they can easily free up some $40 million in space by cutting several veteran players such as Dannell Ellerbe and Cortland Finnegan.
“I’m cautiously optimistic,” Tannenbaum said. “Sometimes the perception of a team’s salary cap and what it really is are two different things because of the complexities of the rules and the subjective nature of contracts in terms of guaranteed money and non-guaranteed money.
“I think there will definitely be a workable plan, and obviously there’s been a lot of work that’s been done up to this point, and then whatever I can add to that moving forward.”