Ryan Tannehill is now, at last, under contract through the 2016 season.
But the Dolphins probably hope he never plays under the $16.2 million fifth-year option, which the team formally exercised Thursday.
Rather, the two sides basically have 10 months to hammer out an extension that would improve the Dolphins’ 2016 salary cap situation. The NFL salary cap this year is roughly $143 million, which is expected to go up in 2016; the Dolphins already have roughly $152 million in liabilities next year.
That’s because of the way the team structured Ndamukong Suh’s contract. Suh’s salary cap number next year is a staggering $28.6 million. Suh and Tannehill together are projected to eat up nearly a third of the team’s cap.
As for the good news for the Dolphins: They’ve locked up their franchise quarterback for the next two seasons, as has long been expected.
Since January, team officials have made clear that Tannehill wasn’t going anywhere. He has improved in each of his first three seasons, throwing for a career-high 4,045 yards and 27 touchdowns in 2014. His passer rating (92.8) ranked 14th in the league, and was the fifth-highest in Dolphins history.
The move, which came just hours before the start of the NFL Draft, will pay Tannehill more in his fifth year than he will have earned in his first four NFL seasons combined. Tannehill is due roughly $2 million this year.
Tannehill, drafted No. 8 overall in 2012, has started all 48 games in his career and has completed 1,029 of 1,662 passes for 11,252 yards, 63 touchdowns and 42 interceptions.