The team gave him a $96 million extension in the 2015 offseason that runs through the end of 2020, then restructured this offseason to create some badly needed cap space. The remainder of Tannehill’s contract will pay him about $60.3 million over three years.
The average salary of his original deal — the total money coming his way has stayed the same — at remains $19.3 million, which ranks 18th in the league each of the next two seasons and 10th in 2020. In the 2015 and ’16 seasons, he ranked 21st and 12th in passer rating, respectively, so the money lands right around what his production has been.
There’s a huge gap between that average pay, which was seen as enormous at the time, and what the top quarterbacks are getting now. San Francisco’s Jimmy Garoppolo, who has seven career starts, got a five-year, $137.5 million contract this season; Kirk Cousins managed a 93.9 passer rating last year and signed for three years, $84 million (fully guaranteed) with Minnesota; Soon-to-be-33-year-old Matt Ryan just cashed in on a five-year, $150 million extension in Atlanta.
Because of the restructure, Tannehill’s remaining $60.3 million is allocated in salary cap hits of $8.7 million this year, $26.6 million in 2019 and $25.1 million in 2020.
The $8.7 million he counts for this year is the 24th-biggest cap hit among NFL quarterbacks this season. His hit jumps to fifth next year and seventh the year after, though that will likely drop in the rankings once new deals are awarded to guys like Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson.
In total, the Dolphins are allocating $10.1 million in 2018 cap space to quarterbacks. Beyond Tannehill’s number, David Fales and Brock Osweiler each count for $720,000, and newly signed Bryce Petty has a $705,000 hit.
He’s got the accuracy and mobility that every team covets. The asterisk that many have placed on him, however, is that he played in the FCS for Richmond. That’s not the best competition, obviously, which makes it more difficult for NFL teams to judge how well he’ll adapt to facing pro defensive lines and pass coverages.
Lauletta is used to people doubting him, though. He got minimal attention from major college programs when he was a high school player and he’s already proven them wrong with an impressive run at Richmond.
“Big chip on my shoulder,” he said. “I thought I was good enough to play at that level. I got recruited by a lot of those schools. They just, for whatever reason, didn’t pull the trigger on scholarship offers.
“I’ve always felt I played my best games in the biggest moments, so I don’t shy away from the big stage. That’s when I feel I’m at my best.”
There have been others who emerged from small programs to become NFL starters, including Philadelphia’s Carson Wentz and Jimmy Garoppolo of the 49ers. Wyoming product Josh Allen is among those being touted as a top-five pick this year.
Lauletta has propelled himself into the mix as a mid-round quarterback in this year’s draft. While Mason Rudolph and Lamar Jackson are still decidedly in the tier ahead of him, he’s often pointed to as an option for teams that get shut out of the top four guys.
The Dolphins are likely to find themselves in that market now that the four best quarterback prospects are expected to go in the first five picks.
Miami picks 42nd and 73rd in the second and third rounds, respectively. It also has two fourth-round picks. The team probably can’t wait longer than that if it wants Lauletta because it doesn’t have a selection in the fifth round.
The Dolphins are locked in to Ryan Tannehill as their starter this year and have David Fales and Brock Osweiler competing for the backup job. Adam Gase said he’s willing to keep three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster if the team drafts one this year.
Lauletta is in the draft’s bargain bin because of the diminished competition he faced in college, he’s on the smaller side at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds and the he doesn’t have an overwhelmingly strong arm. He’s not afraid to admit that, either. He believes he can overcome any of his physical shortfalls with intelligence.
“You have to process information at a high level; all the great quarterbacks do that,” he said. “They understand the game. They have a great feel for situational football and just understanding defense and defensive structure.
“I’m a guy who takes notes diligently. I was elected captain two years in a row. You’ve got to be able to take charge and be comfortable in leadership positions. I’ve done that. This transition is going to be fairly easy. It’s an environment that I feel comfortable in.”
He did that at Richmond, where he completed 64.9 percent of his passes, threw for 3,737 yards and had 28 touchdowns against 12 interceptions in 11 games. He was right around those numbers the two previous seasons as well.
That performance is part of why Kiper likened him to Garoppolo, New England’s second-round pick out of Eastern Illinois in 2014, and recommended him as someone the Dolphins should explore.
“Watching him at Richmond and the way he played at the Senior Bowl, he just didn’t seem to be in awe of anything,” Kiper said. “He just fits in, goes out there and competes.”
There were more than a few arched eyebrows when Ryan Tannehill signed a $96 million, six-year extension with the Dolphins in 2015, but agent Pat Dye said at the time he might come to regret that Miami got his client so cheaply.
That time appears to be now. Pending free agent Jimmy Garoppolo, who has seven career starts, re-signed with the 49ers today for an NFL record $137.5 million over five years. That contract, which includes $74 million guaranteed, will pay Garoppolo an average of $27.5 million.
That bumps Tannehill’s scheduled salary cap hit of $19.8 million, quite reasonable in the modern quarterback economy, for the upcoming season to 14th in the league at his position.
He’ll drop at least one more spot this offseason considering Kirk Cousins is in for a major payday when he hits free agency next month, plus new Washington quarterback Alex Smith’s number will spike starting in 2019 thanks to a four-year, $94 million extension taking effect.
Tannehill’s cap hit for 2018 is right around what Blake Bortles and Tyrod Taylor will cost their teams, which seems appropriate aside from any knee injury concerns after Tannehill missing the last year-plus. He’s been a league-average quarterback, and his contract lines up with that.
If he continues the improvement he showed under coach Adam Gase in 2016, when he posted a career-high 93.5 passer rating, the remainder of his contract will be a modest bargain for the Dolphins. They have him secured at cap hits of $21.1 million in 2019 and $19.5 million in ’20, when he turns 32.
The New England Patriots were on the clock during the second round of the 2014 draft. The Patriots were coming off a typical 12-4 season in which they advanced to the AFC title game before losing at Denver.
New England had needs on the defensive line, where it was getting old, and wide receiver, where it still lacked a potential No. 1. One of those needs, though, was not at quarterback where perennial All-Pro and some would say the greatest ever to play the position, Tom Brady, was ready to return for a 15th season.
So when it came time to make a selection with the 62nd overall pick, the Patriots went with. … A quarterback. And one from a directional school (Eastern Illinois) from the FCS.
Jimmy Garoppolo became New England’s highest drafted QB since Drew Bledsoe was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1993 and immediately filled the role that others like Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett and Matt Cassell have filled as Brady’s backup.
Garoppolo was a four-year starter at Eastern Illinois where he broke several of Tony Romo’s school records, including 5,050 passing yards and 53 TDs in a season, and won the 2013 Walter Payton Award as the best offensive player in the FCS.
Garoppolo was not known for his size (6-2, 226 pounds) or arm strength but more his understanding of the position, vision and his live arm and quick release that some compared at the time to that of Dan Marino. His draft stock rose after a strong week at the Senior Bowl.
Scouts not only questioned his arm strength but also his nearly side-arm motion, his decision making under pressure and internal clock. They said he took too many unnecessary hits.
Garoppolo was ranked around the sixth-best QB in the draft and wound up being the fifth taken behind Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater, who were taken in the first round; and Derek Carr, selected in the second.
Garoppolo has been with the Patriots for two seasons and he is 20 of 31 for 188 yards and a touchdown in 11 games. Most of his action came in two losses, but for two different reasons.
He replaced Brady in a rare blowout loss, in September 2014 in Kansas City, and was 6 of 7. He was 10 of 17 in the final regular-season game that same season when coach Bill Belichick rested many starters for most of a meaningless game.
Garoppolo’s only attempts last season came in the regular-season finale in Miami, a game Belichick inexplicably gave up on despite home field still at stake. Garoppolo was 1 for 4 for six yards.
Garoppolo’s most extensive action has come in the preseason where he was 61 of 80 for 554 yards, two TDs and two picks in 2015.
What’s on the line?
Garoppolo’s NFL future, that’s all. Garoppolo has all the incentive to walk away from his four-week audition having proven he can be a starting QB in the this league.
That also would give the Patriots options. Remember 2008, the year Brady was lost for the season in the opening week? Matt Cassell, taken in the seventh round in 2005, stepped in and led the Patriots to an 11-win season and that winter was send to Kansas City as a package in return for a second-round pick.
If Garoppolo shines, the Patriots could trade him for a higher return and then turn to former Dwyer High standout Jacoby Brissett, who was a third round pick this year out of NC State, as the next Brady backup.
Or, with a contract that expires after 2017, New England could lock him up as Brady’s successor.
Tony Dungy, the former Bucs and Colts coach, told the Boston Globe he believes Garoppolo will get the job done.
“Whether it’s an injury or whatever, when you have people to step in, you expect them to do the job and play well,’’ Dungy said. “And I think that’s what’s going to happen, that’s the way (the Patriots’) system works, that’s what they’ve always done in the past, and I don’t think it’ll be any different.’’
And for Dolphins fans looking for any kind of hope. … The only time the Dolphins won the AFC East in the last 15 years was 2008, the year Brady missed most of the season.
And although Brady’s suspension is just for one/quarter of the season you say at least … “There’s a chance.”