INDIANAPOLIS—Regardless of whether the Dolphins draft a quarterback high this year or find a quality veteran in free agency, they remain firmly committed to Ryan Tannehill.
Tannehill, who hasn’t played since December 2016 because of injuries to his left knee, is ahead of schedule on his rehabilitation and is expected to be back no later than the start of training camp. Miami hasn’t ruled out him being on the field for Organized Team Activities in May, either.
Going without him last year, when the Dolphins settled for Jay Cutler as his replacement, underscored how valuable he is.
“I’m extremely excited,” Gase said. “I know really our entire roster is. The guys that I talk to at the end of the year, everybody appreciated what he brought to the table in years past.
“Sometimes you lose perspective of what somebody does for your team and what he did for us in 2016 when we lost him and going through an entire season without having him. I think the appreciation for him, not only for the coaching staff but other players is very high.”
Tannehill was with the team throughout last season and stayed current on tweaks Gase made to the offense in order to ensure he would not be behind when he came back.
He also often did rehab exercises in view of the media at practices and games. He was running stadium stairs by midseason and looked good throwing deep balls in pre-game warmups. All of that has been encouraging to the Dolphins.
“As far as what the trainers and doctors have told me, everything has progressed extremely well,” Gase said. “He’s a physical freak, and we’ll just kind of play this one as the week goes on, throughout the offseason. I won’t personally know until we get into those stages to where we can be out at practice throwing.
“All I can do is hear things are going good. He’s moving around well (and) he’s able to do what he needs to do to play quarterback.”
Tannehill will turn 30 this summer, and the confident comments on his recovery from knee surgery don’t guarantee anything. He and the Dolphins were equally adamant that he was fine a year ago.
The upside, though, is that his return offers a chance to continue the improvement he showed under Gase while playing for him two years ago. Tannehill posted career highs in passer rating (93.5), completion percentage (67.1) and yards per attempt (7.7).
With Cutler, Matt Moore and David Fales playing quarterback for the Dolphins last year, they ranked 18th in the league in yards and had the third-most interceptions. Their collective passer rating of 78.7 placed 28th.
Gase said he has no doubt Tannehill will be the Dolphins’ starter in the upcoming season and “I don’t see that changing anytime soon.” If Miami drafts a quarterback at No. 11, or any other round for that matter, it would theoretically be to use that player as Tannehill’s backup in 2018.
Gase does not believe Tannehill would view it as a threat or have any objection to the team drafting a quarterback.
Tannehill’s contract runs through 2020 and pays him an average of $20.1 million per year. His $19.8 million salary cap hit this season will rank no higher than 15th at his position.
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