Ryan Tannehill became the first quarterback of the 2012 NFL Draft class with a new contract after the Miami Dolphins signed the signal caller to an extension through 2020. Tannehill’s new contract involves $77 million in new money and at least $25 million guaranteed (with even $45 million guaranteed if he remains on the team until the end of his deal). With his new contract, Tannehill becomes the first quarterback taken from the 2012 NFL Draft with a new contract, as Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, and Robert Griffin III still remain under their rookie deals.
So far, the Washington Redskins have picked up the 2016 option on Griffin’s contract, and the Seahawks and Colts continue to work towards reaching new deals with their quarterbacks. Originally, the Dolphins also chose to pick up Tannehill’s fifth year option but ultimately opted instead to restructure his deal before the season.
The Dolphins’ decision to invest this kind of money in their fourth year starter reveals two main points moving forward:
1. The Miami Dolphins believe Ryan Tannehill is their franchise quarterback.
Before the Dolphins drafted Tannehill eighth overall in the 2012 NFL Draft, they started 16 different quarterbacks in 12 seasons, dating back to Hall of Famer Dan Marino’s retirement in 1999. Nearly everyone questioned the Tannehill’s experience at the position, as he spent two seasons at wide receiver before making the permanent switch to quarterback his senior year at Texas A&M. After struggling behind an anemic offensive line his freshman year, it appeared as though the Dolphins had wasted a valuable first round pick.
However, Tannehill’s best statistic to date in the early part of his career has been his dedication to improving despite difficult situations. In 2013, just his second year, Tannehill was sacked 58 times, the most in the NFL, but still managed to improve on his rookie campaign, completing 60.4% of his passes for 3,913 yards with 24 touchdowns to just 17 interceptions. Last year, Tannehill continued to climb the quarterback rankings, completing 66.4% of his passes for 4,045 yards with 27 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. His 92.8 quarterback passer rating was 14th best in the league.
In other words, Tannehill is doing exactly what a head coach and general manager like to see: building consistency and getting better each year. For this reason, the Dolphins have decided to invest in RT17, displaying the organization’s confidence and support behind their young passer. If Tannehill can continue to improve over the course of his new deal and career, then he will have proven this decision to be a smart one.
2. Expect bigger deals for Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson.
Given Tannehill’s production thus far in his young career, expect to see Luck and Wilson ink even bigger contracts in the next coming months. Both quarterbacks are already extremely accomplished given their youth, and are completely justified in their attempts to reach deals that exceed Tannehill’s.
Last year, Luck led the NFL in touchdown passes with 40 (to just 16 interceptions), and was third in the NFL in passing yards with 4,761. He has taken the Colts to the playoffs in each of his first three seasons, including reaching the AFC Conference Championship last year, where the Colts fell to the New England Patriots. It seems as though it is only a matter of time before Luck breaks through and wins his first Super Bowl, and the Colts should do everything in their power to keep Luck in Indianapolis for the duration of his career.
Speaking of the Super Bowl, Russell Wilson was one play shy of becoming a back to back champion last year. The former third round pick brought Seattle its first Super Bowl title in history just two seasons ago and has quickly become one of the league’s best quarterbacks. Not only does he have the physical attributes necessary to excel in this league, but he also has veteran-like leadership and decision making. Wilson reportedly wants the biggest contract in his class , and deservedly so. He is the most accomplished of his class at any position, and has dominated the NFC the past two seasons.
The Dolphins have set the tone for both the Seahawks and the Colts. Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson will have Ryan Tannehill to thank for upping the ante on post-rookie deals, as Luck and Wilson will likely receive millions more now that Tannehill’s contract is official. All eyes will be on these three quarterbacks heading into the 2015-2016 season.