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What Does the Andy Dalton signing mean for the Miami Dolphins and Ryan Tannehill?

Will Andy Dalton's contract possibly dictate a new deal for Miami's Ryan Tannehill in the near future?


On Monday, Cincinnati's Andy Dalton signed a 6-year contract extension with the Cincinnatti Bengals. At first, the deal was reported to be 6-years, $115 million, which pretty much sent the internet into meltdown mode. But as the details emerged, the contract seemed to be somewhat fair in the big picture. Dalton's deal, as reported by Pro Football Talk, is at 6-years, $96 million (with incentives up to $115 million) but it is almost completely front-loaded. This means that with his initial signing bonus, he will make $18 million guaranteed this year and $22 million guaranteed (with a $5 million dollar roster bonus) through the month of February.  With all of Dalton's guaranteed $17 million given to him before the 2016 season, this essentially makes this nothing more than a 2-year deal for the ginger signal caller. Pro Football Talk breaks down what happens after that:

The rest of the base deal is simple.  In addition to annual workout bonuses of $200,000, Dalton has base salaries of $10.5 million in 2016, $13.1 million in 2017, $13.7 million in 2018, $16 million in 2019, and $17.5 million in 2020.

Ryan Tannehill enters his third year on his four year rookie deal. Tannehill came into the league a year behind Dalton, meaning Miami may face the same decision that Cincinnati just made, in less than a year from now. Fortunately, they will have all of 2014 to grade his long-term value, and hopefully for Miami's sake, they see enough flashes in 2014 to lock him up with a solid, and perhaps similar contract moving forward.

Here are some things to ponder when comparing Dalton to Tannehill, which may help predict on where Tannehill's contract may land, if he does in fact stay in Miami past 2015.

  • Andy Dalton finished last year with better numbers than Ryan Tannehill in almost all basic categories. He had a better completion percentage (61.9% to 60.4%), a better TD:INT ratio (33:20 to Tannehill's 24:17), and more yards passing (4,293 to 3,913). Ryan Tannehill had slightly more rushing yards (238 to Dalton's 183). Both Quarterbacks numbers have improved each year they have been in the league, however both have thrown more interceptions than the previous year.

  • Pro Football Focus ranked Ryan Tannehill as the 7th top QB of 2013 (by far the highest you will likely find him on ANY list), while Dalton ranked him in the lower half of the league for starters, at 17th.

  • Ron Jaworski's QB rankings for 2013 put Andy Dalton at 18th, which was five spots ahead of Ryan Tannehill (23rd).

  • The Bengals, as of now, are a much better team and a more consistent offense than Miami. While both teams have their fare share of playmakers, Miami gave up a league high 58 sacks in 2013, while Dalton was surrounded by a better offensive line, a very productive rookie running back, and a top 5 receiver in A.J. Green. While both put up similar numbers last year, you can make a point that Tannehill has done much more with less.

  • Even despite offensive outlets, Cincinatti has proven to be better. Dalton's record is a respectable 30-18 for his career, while Tannehill is hoping to bring his career record of 15-17, above .500. However, Dalton is 0-3 in the playoffs, proving critics to bring out the lack of the "clutch" gene when breaking down Dalton's contract. Tannehill, as we all know, is still searching for his playoff appearance.

  • Ryan Tannehill is 2-0 against Andy Dalton in the pros, coming from a 17-13 victory in Week 5 of the 2012 season, and a 22-20 OT victory last year on Halloween night.

  • You could realistically place both quarterbacks in that "middle tier" category, for now. Dalton appears more polished and consistent, but Tannehill does have decent numbers already, but with his athleticism also has that "potential" to have a much higher ceiling than Dalton does. But 2014 will be a big year for Miami; you don't give a $100-million contract to a player with "potential".

Overall, Andy Dalton's deal is proving just how important quarterbacks continue to be in this league. Even at his average salary, a 'middle of the pack' signal caller is still demanding upwards of $10 million, after they re-sign from their rookie contracts. Putting things in perspective- though he will 'unlikely' play out his entire 6-year contract, Dalton's average of $16-million/year is the same average per year as Calvin Johnson, who may be the best offensive player in the NFL. In 2014, Ryan Tannehill is slated to have a cap hit of $3.4 million this year before playing out his final year of his deal in 2015. If he excels, Miami may look to offer Tannehill an extension around the same average dollar amount. However, how the Dolphins decide to structure it will be crucial; you can bet Miami will have their top minds (ahem, Dawn Aponte) making this new deal as 'team-friendly' as possible.

The Dolphins essentially have two years to gauge Tannehill before he can hit the open market. A worse case scenario? Perhaps Miami under achieves this year, in which they may see a brand new coach in 2015. From what history has shown us, a new coach may very well mean a new QB, which could end the 'Tannehill Project' for good. One thing is for sure, Miami fans are all but hoping that the Dolphins are more than happy to shell out a nice pay day to their young quarterback after this year.