T.J. McDonald has turned a zero-strikes policy into a home run.
McDonald, the Dolphins safety whose eight-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy begins this weekend, has been a model citizen since joining the Dolphins.
And he’s been a really good player, too.
The Dolphins were so impressed with McDonald that on Saturday they awarded him a four-year contract extension worth a reported $24 million. He’s getting $10 million guaranteed, which NFL Network reported is the highest amount ever given a player on a multi-game suspension.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
McDonald knew he had no margin for error when he signed with the Dolphins back in the spring. But he’s exceeded all expectations, and would likely start next to Reshad Jones in Week 1 if not for his suspension.
The earliest McDonald can appear in a game with the Dolphins is on Nov. 5, when Miami hosts the Raiders.
The Miami Herald reported late Thursday that the Dolphins were close to a long-term deal with McDonald. On Saturday, as the team pared its roster down to 53 players, the deal got done.
The deal keeps McDonald under contract through the 2021 season, so in essence, it’s a five-year, $25 million deal. Average veteran safeties can get contracts worth upwards to $5 million annually; the Dolphins think they got a very good one for that amount.
The contract also includes language protecting the team on the $10 million guaranteed in the event McDonald is suspended again in the future.
Miami Herald sportswriter Armando Salguero contributed to this report.